Terrence Howard ordered to pay nearly $1 million after telling judge it was ‘immoral to charge taxes to the descendants of slaves’

Terrance Howard has been ordered to pay nearly $1 million in back taxes after asserting that it’s “immoral” for the government to tax the descendants of slaves.

The 54-year-old Empire star was sued by the government for failing to pay $578,000 between 2010 and 2019, and US District Judge John F. Murphy – who was overseeing the case – ultimately issued a final verdict after Howard failed to respond to the lawsuit.


“For more than a year, the 54-year-old star of the TV hit Empire, whose last listed address was in Plymouth Meeting, rebuffed IRS efforts to collect $578,000 in income taxes it says he failed to pay between 2010 and 2019,” the Inquirer reported.

Howard was sued by the government for failing to pay $578,000 between 2010 and 2019. Credit: Unique Nicole / GettyPer The Hollywood Reporter, the staggering figure accounts for overdue federal income tax assessments, fines, and interest for 2010, 2011, 2016, 2017, and 2019 tax years, as well as accrued interest up to December 2023 – which will continue to increase until Howard pays up.

The action comes after Howard allegedly claimed that it is “immoral for the United States government to charge taxes to the descendants of slaves”, per Deadline.

While Howard refused to defend himself in court, his reason for the longtime nonpayment was disclosed in a voicemail that the court attached to its ruling.

He was sued by the Justice Dept. in 2022 after he reportedly didn’t respond to their injunctions beyond a voicemail he allegedly left for the case’s lead tax attorney, Maria Elizabeth Ruwe. In that message, Howard refused to pay anything and threatened to publish the lawsuit on the internet, thus intimidating the attorney.


The voicemail reportedly ended in the middle of his rant, but the Hustle & Flow star called back to continue his speech, stating: “In truth, the entire United States should, by default, become the property of the descendants of slaves. But since you do not have the ability [or] the courage to do it, let’s try this in court … We’re gonna bring you down.”

The judge reportedly asked the attorney Howard left the message with if the threats could result in future criminal charges, according to the Daily Mail. Ruwe responded that she had passed along the message to the justice department, which had opened an investigation, adding: “I don’t know the results of it.”


He is expected to pay $903,115 in back taxes, penalties, and interest. Credit: JC Olivera / GettyThe final judgment comes after The Best Man actor filed an unrelated conflict of interest case against CAA over his Empire salary in December, per The Hollywood Reporter.

In the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Howard claimed the agents who packaged his contract with Fox prioritized their interests and those of the show’s producers, which it also represented, by causing Howard to take low pay despite having the lead role.

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