Ye has spoken out about his financial woes and debts. Before he became a billionaire in 2016, Ye claimed he was $53million in debt. In the last month, he claims that four of his personal accounts were frozen due to tax debt.
Now, NBC News has reviewed government records and found that at least one of his businesses could also be facing six-figure debt.
These records show that the state of California claims that Yeezy Apparel (a company owned and managed by Ye) owes more than $600,000. In July 2021, February and September, three separate notice letters were sent. A lien is a claim on an entity or person’s assets as a result of an alleged debt.
Ye has described the alleged debts as a major source of chaos around his businesses and former associates. Forbes recently removed Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) from its billionaires’ list, citing his termination of business deals.
Four tax experts stated that the amount owed to Yeezy Apparel was significant and could indicate deeper problems at the company.
“Multiple California tax lien amounts up to $600,000. That’s definitely a sign of extreme incompetence, or extreme cash problems,” stated Edward McCaffery of USC Gould School of Law, who is a specialist in tax law. “This is a kind of Amber Alert for the financial well-being of the enterprise.”
A lien can be placed on a taxpayer or company if they don’t respond to letters regarding taxes owed. They may also have to pay the full amount or make a payment plan.
According to California business records, Yeezy Apparel was established in California in 2017. It was listed as active and in good standing in an annual filing. Yeezy Apparel, Ye’s main fashion and lifestyle brand is, was registered in California as being active and in “good” standing in an annual filing. Forbes reportedin a Ye profile that he owned 100% of Yeezy in 2019. Yeezy borrowed $2.3 million from the Paycheck Protection Program a year later.
Lynn LoPucki is a University of Florida professor who specializes in secured transactions, bankruptcy research and law. She said that the liens raise questions about California’s debt collection policies.
He said that the state was being criticised for sitting on this matter when they have a business to collect.
Representatives of Ye and Yeezy didn’t respond to a request.
Former colleagues claimed Ye would use antisemitic language at work and praise Hitler. A NBC News investigation uncovered these accounts. After such allegations, the report revealed that Ye had reached a settlement with a former colleague.
Ye described his financial turmoil on Monday. He told Tim Pool, a far-right podcast host, that four of his bank account were frozen due to a $75m hold and that his accountants had informed him that he owed $50 million in taxes.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, “Federal law forbids the IRS commenting or confirming any private taxpayer matter.”
Yeezy Apparel claims to owe a fraction of the multimillion dollar figures cited by Ye, but the liens fit within a pattern that he has used in his other businesses.
NBC News discovered 17 California government-imposed liens against Ye’s businesses, and a charity he founded in his name. They date back to 2012. The liens were classified as active, with no indication that they had been paid or terminated.
LoPucki stated that tax lien means that the state continues to maintain that a debt is due to it. The California Employment Development Department issued the majority of the liens that NBC News reviewed.
A representative of the department stated that it was unable to comment on taxpayer information.
Four experts reviewed the liens and agreed they most likely related to payroll taxes. This is because the department oversees both unemployment and payroll taxes in the state.
Kirk Stark, the Barrall Family Professor of Tax Law and Policy, UCLA School of Law, stated that “Those would include things like unemployment insurance and taxes on state disability insurance,” Kirk Stark said.
Although it is not clear how the liens were filed, the experts agree that a lien indicating that the state has placed a lien on Yeezy Apparel indicates that prior communications between the two entities would have allowed the company to challenge or resolve the debts.
“They have become quite serious before a lien can be imposed often.” This is not the first step in a tax enforcement agency,” stated David Gamage, an Indiana University Bloomington professor of law who specializes in taxes.
Stark stated that “Consistently disregarding communications from the EDD would eventually lead to the department just saying, ‘OK then you know. We’re going to file the lien and you know set this in motion’.” Stark used an abbreviation of the Employment Development Department.
The earliest liens that are listed as active and have no indication of termination are those which were created in the tax year 2020.
NBC News spoke to experts who said that liens could indicate larger business concerns.
McCaffery stated, “If you screw up on this you have bigger problems and there are probably other things that you’re not paying.” It could also be consistent with a basic operation that is a bit sloppy.
After the Adidas deal was terminated, it’s unclear what the future holds for Yeezy and the associated companies.
Forbes reportedly found Yeezy documentation within its internal system during Ye’s assessment of his billionaire status. According to Forbes, the Yeezy brand was “functionally linked” to Adidas for the duration of the contract.
Adidas stated on an earnings call after the termination that it would continue selling Yeezy designs under a different brand.
Harm Ohlmeyer (chief financial officer at Adidas) stated, “Let’s be clear, all IP is ours, all designs are ours, and we have all versions and new colors.”
Zak Kurtz is the co-founder and CEO at the law firm Sneaker & Streetwear Legal Services. He said that Yeezy’s prospects of becoming a profitable business are limited due to Adidas’ ownership over a lot of Yeezy’s intellectual property.
Kurtz stated that what he can use are his trademarks and any new designs or new products that he creates. Kurtz said, “And I believe that’s where the brand needs to go. In my opinion they would have to create new stuff.”
Kenneth Anand, coauthor of ” Sneaker Law“, said that the company could seek another partnership with a major manufacturer.
“It could be aligned with a new licencee, possibly one that can offer similar products and services as the Gap or Adidas did,” Anand wrote in a text message. Anand has also served as the head for business development and general counsel to Yeezy.
Anand stated that he couldn’t comment on the company as an industry expert and pointed out that Ye had started to be a popular choice for consumers.
Anand stated that “Ye’s recent statements clearly have hurt the Yeezy brand.” “Consumers openly declare that they won’t support or wear Yeezy even if the brand has cost them a lot of money.”