Former Olympians Can’t Escape Tax Trouble

Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Bobby Kersee are facing even more financial troubles in addition to their rollercoaster in the past. The Internal Revenue Service now claims they owe $386,000 in added taxes and penalties based on their $1.5 million in taxable income from years 2007 to 2010. However, the couple is already disputing the bill in a lawsuit filed in June with the U.S. Tax Court. They are claiming a total of only $703,000 in taxable income for those years.

Together, the couple has made substantial marks in the history of the Olympics. Joyner-Kersee, a former Olympian, has won six medals total, including three gold medals from 1982 through 1996. She holds a world record in the heptathlon and was named The Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated for Women. She is now a board member of USA Track & Field and is in London for the current Olympic games. Her husband, Bobby Kersee still coaches Olympic athletes, including Dawn Harper, who just won a silver medal yesterday in the 100 meter hurdles race, and Allyson Felix, who will competing in the finals of the 200-meter race.

In spite of their numerous Olympic successes and additional volunteer work, they have faced financial trouble for quite some time. A youth center in Kersee’s hometown of St. Louis, under the Jackie Joyner-Kersee foundation, has also faced financial drama as well. In 2009, the foundation had to decrease the size of their staff and cancel future events, after it was reported that the organization had paid $450,000 to another organization manage by Bobby Kersee. The center then had to close down in 2010 but an anonymous donor helped them to reopen last year.

Sadly, the Kersees’ tax issues became part of the public spotlight last year when the IRS filed two additional tax liens against them, one in Los Angeles and one in St. Louis, as they reside in both locations. They still have outstanding liens from 2006 and 2010. Therefore, they owe a combined total of approximately $1.3 million to the IRS.

The existing tax liens do not cover their tax bills from 2007 to 2010, so they face a number of dilemmas with the IRS. In U.S. Tax Court, the couple is arguing that the IRS denied them deductions for business expenses in the years 2007 to 2010. Bobby has travelled for his Olympic coaching to places like Beijing, Osaka, and Berlin, and Jackie had numerous travel fees as she had toured the nation as a motivational speaker.

Denials like the Kersees face normally apply to taxpayers if they do not present the proper documents to the IRS, meaning they are not sufficient enough to confirm their deductions or bias. The Kersees, in this case, claim that they supplied all the necessary documentation to their accountant and then further relied on him to report any and all of their income and expenses. Luckily, the Kersees have a tax lawyer to help them resolve their case. Harry Charles, who represents the couple, satisfied their earlier tax liens and is optimistic about their case. He believes that once the cases are sent to the IRS appeals for settlement and the Kersees provide additional required documentation, these too will be resolved. As the IRS has very specific documentation requirements for travel and entertainment expenses, it is very important that individuals and business owners hire a knowledgeable tax lawyer to assist them in presenting such requirements to the IRS.

To avoid the extensive time and expenses involved in tax court, contact an IRS attorney to solve your tax issues today.


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