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‘Empire’ Star Terrence Howard Owes Income Tax After Threatening DOJ Atty

‘Empire’ Star Terrence Howard Owes Income Tax After Threatening DOJ Atty

According to Law360Empire" actor Terrence Howard owes more than $900,000 in federal income taxes under a default judgment by a Pennsylvania federal judge that follows a months long search by the government to notify the actor of the suit, during which he threatened a government attorney.

U.S. District Judge John F. Murphy granted the government's request for the ruling against Howard of $903,000 following a hearing during which an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice said authorities investigated voicemail messages Howard left her. Those messages, detailed in court documents, included Howard railing against the injustices of taxation and threatening to "bring [her] down."

"The legal and factual basis for the default judgment is provided in more than sufficient detail in the government's briefing and exhibits," Judge Murphy said in the order, which said interest would continue to accrue on the judgment.

The government expended considerable time and effort in putting that evidence together. The judgment caps a drama-filled, months long attempt by the government to ensure the TV star knew he was being sued for unpaid taxes for 2010, 2011, 2016, 2017 and 2019, and to prove it in court.

The government filed the complaint against Howard in December 2022. In March, the government asked the court for another three months to locate the actor, saying they had sent process servers to Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, the address on file for Howard with the Internal Revenue Service. But the gated property appeared to be unoccupied, and its intercom lacked connectivity, according to a March 15 filing.

An entertainment attorney for Howard told the government that she would contact his tax attorney, who told the government he would discuss the suit with Howard, according to the filing. But by June, the government had come up empty again, telling the court that the tax attorney told them he would not be representing Howard after all, according to a June 20 filing.

"Despite the United States' diligent efforts, the defendant still has not been served with the complaint and summons," the government told the court in the filing, again asking for more time.

A Pennsylvania federal court "expressed concerns about the sufficiency of the purported service," according to an Oct. 5 filing, and asked the government to continue trying to notify Howard about the suit against him.

On Oct. 31, Howard was personally served notice of the lawsuit at a St. Louis Park, Minnesota, address, according to filings.

The government presented additional evidence confirming Howard's knowledge of the suit in a January request to the court to reduce the debt to judgment. Howard had called Ruwe and left a voicemail message saying he was going to be representing himself and would "need assistance in that", according to a Jan. 8 filing, which included a transcript of the message.

Howard Said In The Message That He Believed It Was
"Immoral For The United States Government To Charge
Taxes To The Descendants Of Slaves Who Built This
Country For 400 Years," According To The Filing.

When the voicemail cut off, Howard called the attorney back and left another message, saying the U.S. "should, by default, become the property of the descendants of slaves."

In the second voicemail, Howard calls Ruwe by her full name and says he's going to post the call on the internet and let "the descendants of slaves" know that he's reached out to her.

"We're Gonna Bring You Down," Howard Said,
According To The Transcript, With A Laugh.
"Looking Forward To This."

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Read more at: Tax Times blog

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