“Tiger King” Star Agrees to Pay State of Oklahoma More Than $100,000 in Back Taxes

Dec 16, 2020 | Blog

Courtesy of Netflix via BBC

It seems that even celebrities are sometimes in need of a tax lawyer. Jeff Lowe, the “Tiger King” star, found himself in tax trouble this past summer, and he has now agreed to pay a sum totaling more than $100,000 in back taxes to the state of Oklahoma, as well as interest and tax penalties.

A petition was filed by the state of Oklahoma in June which began a lawsuit between Oklahoma and Jeff Lowe, president of Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. According to the documents filed in Gavin County Court, Lowe was delinquent in his taxes by approximately $50,274.01, and the petition sought injunctive relief and tax recovery on behalf of the Tax Commission of Oklahoma. The documents stated that Lowe did not pay sales tax collections to the tax commission, nor did he file tax returns as required by law.

Sales Tax Was Collected After Renewal of Permit Was Denied

The petition went on to say that despite the fact that the establishment’s sales tax permit was denied for renewal in May 2020, Lowe continued to collect taxes while operating the business, but failed to remit them to the commission. The park was founded by “Joe Exotic,” whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, and Lowe took it over in 2016. A total of $69,487.92 was owed from February 2016 through December 2017, but Lowe placed the blame for the lawsuit on Joe Exotic, who he alleged was misreporting sales tax and embezzling funds from the park. The state maintained that it was Lowe who was responsible for collecting and remitting taxes to the state of Oklahoma. Lowe was sued personally as well as in his capacity as president of Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.

Joe Exotic Makes Claims Against Lowe

Maldonado-Passage tried to build a case against Lowe, alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, invasion of privacy, and defamation. Maldonado-Passage is currently serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison for solicitation of murder; he was convicted of trying to hire a person to kill Carole Baskin, who had attempted to shut down the establishment with accusations of illegal selling of big-cat cubs, animal abuse, and cruelty to animals.

It is not known if Lowe sought tax payment plans or other arrangements to pay off the back taxes, or if any type of tax relief will be pursued, but as of October 2020, he did agree to pay off over $100,000 of tax debt.

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