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20th Sep 2021

AOC’s ‘Tax the Rich’ dress designer accused of owing thousands in unpaid taxes

Danny Jones

AOC's dress designer, Aurora James, has thousands in unpaid debt

An unfortunate twist in an otherwise powerful statement

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s eye-catching ‘TAX THE RICH’ dress made waves at the Met Gala and across social media last week (September 13). However, the story has taken a rather unfortunate turn.

As per the New York Post, Aurora James – the designer of the demonstrative outfit – has multiple unpaid debts totalling approximately $62,722, with no payments received as of yet.

The majority of her debt has been generated through her limited liability company (LLC), Cultural Brokerage Agency (CBA). The organisation, formed in 2011, was set up as the parent company for her fashion brand, which is now known as Brother Vellies and is frequented by the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna and Meghan Markle.

Aurora James and AOC at the Met Gala

According to the Department of Taxation and Finance, the company racked up three open tax warrants in New York state after failing to withhold $14,798 worth of income taxes from employees’ pay packets between 2018 and 2019.

Furthermore, around the same time, the IRS placed six federal liens on the company totalling $103,220 – that’s over £75k – for failing to carry out employee payroll tax.

CBA has actually been issued with 15 different tax warrants since 2015, another of which includes a fine of $17,000 from the Worker’s Compensation Board for not holding worker’s-comp insurance between March 2017 and February 2018. To make matters worse, the company also received $41,666 in pandemic relief aid.

A number of workers even blasted James’ fashion brand – comparing it to a sweatshop, populated with many unpaid interns working full-time jobs. One told the Post: “I experienced a lot of harassment when I worked for her. Aurora [James] would ask me to do things that were not in anyone’s job description, like scheduling her gynaecological appointments”.

The anonymous individual went on to say that, “The work environment was so hostile that I was afraid to ask for my check.” She was ultimately terminated from her position.

Neither the IRS os AOC have come out to comment on her current financial status nor the situation itself.

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