There aren't many public figures whose resumes are as diverse as Cornel West's. The 70-year-old is a politician, activist, actor, author, hip-hop and spoken-word performer, podcaster, 2024 Green Party presidential candidate, and educator—with ties to some of the top universities in the United States, including Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale, and Harvard.
He may also be a deadbeat dad and delinquent taxpayer. Let's find out more.
West's Income Tax Troubles
According to tax records from Mercer County, New Jersey, where West lives, the philosopher and social justice advocate owes approximately $466,000 in federal income taxes. West racked up the debt between 2014 and 2017.
This delinquency seems to have developed into a pattern or habit for West. The tax records also reveal that he was similarly in debt, to the tune of $725,000, for the years 1998 to 2005. West did repay that particular tax lien—but not until 2010. In the meantime, in 2008, he was back to his old tricks, accruing another $34,000.
Income tax records from California show similar debts, one of approximately $47,000 for 2011 and another from 2012 of over $112,000. West only recently paid these liens; tellingly, he opened his checkbook about two weeks after declaring his presidential candidacy in June 2023.
West Also Owes Child Support Payments
In addition to owing Uncle Sam, West is also in arrears to a former partner, Aytul Gurtas, for child support. And just as with the tax man, the Green Party candidate's delinquent child-support payments are substantial; in this instance, the totals are close to $50,000—some eight times the average paid by one parent to another.
Kathleen Stockton, a family lawyer in New Jersey, cautions that West may have made payments privately to Gurtas. If that's the case, any money that changes hands will not be reflected in court documents. While it doesn't make much sense that West would pay child support “under the table,” as it were, there's really no telling what this public figure's financial circumstances look like.
Will West's Debts Affect His Presidential Campaign?
Of course, by declaring his bid for the White House, West has positioned himself front and center on the national stage. This virtually ensures that American media will dig as deeply into his closet as possible, looking for any and all potential skeletons to drag into the public spotlight.
That said, it's his personal finances that are under the microscope, not his campaign's—so, ostensibly, they may not end up affecting the campaign all that much. Nevertheless, under U.S. law, candidates for the country's highest office are required to disclose “liabilities owed” that top $10,000 (excluding child support).
While you may not owe—or be owed—similar staggering amounts of child support, the lawyers at the Lento Law Firm understand that sometimes, struggling single parents need every last cent to care for their children. Whether you are seeking to recoup delinquent child-support payments or are having difficulty making such payments and are requesting a modification of your custody agreement, the Lento Family Law Team can help. Contact us to learn more and tell us your story by filling out this contact form or calling us at 888.535.3686.