Grammy Award-winning singer Dionne Warwick has filed for bankruptcy, blaming tax liability and financial mismanagement. Court records filed in New Jersey on March 21 reveal the singer owes nearly $10.7 million, mostly to the IRS.
Warwick’s publicist, Kevin Sasaki, offered a statement explaining how the figure got so high.
“In light of the magnitude of her tax liabilities, Warwick has repeatedly attempted to offer re-payment plans and proposals to the IRS and the California Franchise Tax Board for taxes owed,” Sasaki said. “These plans were not accepted, resulting in escalating interest and penalties.”
The filing is shocking to many, as Warwick is one of the most charted female singers in the Sound Scan era, with over 56 singles in the Billboard Hot 100 between 1968 and 1998. Some of her Grammy-award winning classics include “Say A Little Prayer” and “Walk on By,” both of which have been covered relentlessly.
Warwick’s attorney is also speaking out on the filing, pointing fingers at Warwick’s ex-manager for his hand in the mismanagement. “Ms. Warwick had a business manager who mismanaged her affairs,” her attorney Daniel Stolz tells Rolling Stone. The mismanagement coincided with the slowdown of Warwick’s career in the late 1980s.
“Before she knew it, she owed a gazillion dollars in taxes. She’s actually paid more than the face amount of the taxes, but with all of the crazy interest and penalties that they add, the number kept mushrooming – even though she paid off the amount that she owed in terms of the actual taxes,” said Stolz.
Warwick is also from an era where handlers controlled the soul business. Stolz explained to Rolling Stone that singers like Dionne, who came from modest upbringings in New Jersey, “rely heavily on people and frequently wind up waking up someday saying, ‘Geez how did I get in this mess and how do I get out of it?'”
The tax troubles have apparently been mounting for years, and the filing comes as a last resort. The past few years have been rough for Warwick in personal ways as well. Warwick was a close friend and cousin of legend Whitney Houston, who passed away tragically and unexpectedly in February of 2012. Warwick appeared noticeably shaken at Houston’s funeral and in the months after her death.
Ultimately, in addition to suffering through family tragedy, Stolz claims that “she was an innocent victim of terrible mismanagement.”