The 37-year-old fashion designer behind Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s controversial ‘Tax the Rich’ dress she wore at the Met Gala has been accused of avoiding paying taxes her business owes, and has debts in multiple states.
Aurora James said the dress sent a ‘powerful message’ but her own delinquent tax bills appear to show she didn’t take it to heart. The successful designer’s debts are mostly owed by an LLC she formed in 2011 – Cultural Brokerage Agency – to serve as the parent company of her fashion brand, Brother Vellies.
According to the New York Post, as Beyonce, Rihanna and Meghan Markle became fan favorites of James’s luxury brand, the company racked up three open tax warrants in New York state for for failing to withhold income taxes from employees’ paychecks totaling $14,798.
The Department of Taxation and Finance told The Post the outstanding payments were from 2018 and 2019 but the LLC has been hit with a total of 15 warrants since 2015.
In the two years before the pandemic the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also placed six federal liens – the government’s legal claim against your property when you fail to pay a tax debt – on the LLC amounting to $103,220. According to the post the liens noted that the company failed to send employee payroll taxes.
Aurora James (left), 37, said the controversial dress she designed for Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (right) to attend the Met Gala in sent a ‘powerful message’ but her own delinquent tax bills show she didn’t take it to heart
As Beyonce, Rihanna and Meghan Markle became fan favorites of James’s luxury brand Brother Vellies the company racked up three open tax warrants in New York state for for failing to withhold income taxes from employees’ paychecks totaling $14,798
The IRS declined The Post’s request for comment.
However, the Canadian has proved she has no problem taking money from taxpayers as her company received $41,666 in pandemic relief aid, according to The Post.
Maybe that’s why AOC labeled James a ‘working class’ designer in an interview with Vogue as they made waves on The Met’s red carpet.
AOC, the 31-year-old socialist firebrand, was has been slammed for wearing the socialist slogan-emblazoned dress to a $35,000-a-ticket event, although she was handed a free ticket to the glitzy gala.
Despite James’ tax worries, the designer was still able to buy $1.6million Hollywood Hills home in September 2020 – which The Post reported she currently owes $2,504 in property taxes on.
The 7,095-square-foot property boasts three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a master-bedroom fireplace and backyard hot tub.
Cultural Brokerage Agency’s issues are said to run deeper, with the firm also accused of failing to pay benefits its workers are entitled to.
In October 2019 the Worker’s Compensation Board hit the company with a $17,000 fine for not carrying worker’s-comp insurance – which is paid out when an employee is hurt at work and has to take off as a result – from March 2017 to February 2018.
David Cenedella, a Baruch College taxation lecturer explained: ‘Just because they take it out of your paycheck doesn’t mean they’re sending it to the government.
‘It’s certainly not something you want. I would not say your average business out there has this. Something went wrong.’
AOC labeled James a ‘working class’ designer at the Met Gala but oddly enough, James bought a $1.6million Hollywood Hills home in September 2020
She reportedly still owes $2,504 in property taxes on the property
The 7,095-square-foot property boasts three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a master-bedroom fireplace and backyard hot tub
An ex-employee said James would ask her to do things outside of anyone’s job description, like schedule her gynecological appointments, and a former intern called the boss ‘quite cold’
But that hasn’t phased James, who hasn’t made a single payment on the $62,722 she owes the board, a spokesperson told The Post.
Ex-employees have likened Brother Veillies to a sweatshop relying heavily on unpaid interns working full-time jobs.
A former worker, who got fired, told The Post: ‘I experienced a lot of harassment when I worked for her. Aurora would ask me to do things that were not in anyone’s job description, like scheduling her gynecological appointments.
‘The work environment was so hostile that I was afraid to ask for my check.’
An intern who also worked for James called her ‘quite cold’.
‘She never gives recognition or acknowledgement to her team,’ he said.
According to records she also doesn’t pay her rent. In August 2020 James’s landlord filed papers to evict Brother Vellies from their location at 71 Franklin Street in Brooklyn, New York, and demanded more than $25,000 plus interest for staying beyond the end of her lease, The Post reported.
The case was settled but the details of the settlement weren’t immediately clear.
Two years prior, in February 2018, James was sued for more than $5,000 in unpaid rent at her shop’s previous New York City address at 209 West 38th Street.
James has yet to comment on the allegations surrounding her finances.
According to records she also doesn’t pay her rent. In August 2020 James’s landlord filed papers to evict Brother Vellies from their Brooklyn location and demanded more than $25,000. Two years prior, in February 2018, James was sued for more than $5,000 in unpaid rent at her shop’s previous Manhattan address