AOC’s ‘Tax the Rich’ dress designer accused of owing thousands in unpaid taxes and refusing to pay interns

Aurora James’s company has allegedly been hit with multiple tax warrants

Helen Elfer
Sunday 19 September 2021 18:05 BST
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The designer behind the statement-making gown that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore to the Met Gala has been accused of not paying her tax debts.

Aurora James created the attention-grabbing white dress for AOC, which had the slogan “Tax the Rich” emblazoned in red across it. 

The New York Post reports that despite calling the dress a “powerful message,” records show Ms James herself owes thousands to the tax office.

Her company Cultural Brokerage Agency was formed in 2011 and is now known as Brother Vellies. According to The Post’s report, it has been served 15 tax warrants in total since 2015.

It racked up three in New York state for failing to withhold income taxes from employees’ paychecks, to a total of almost $15k, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

Between April 2018 and April 2019, the Internal Revenue Service placed six federal liens on Cultural Brokerage Agency totaling $103,220. The IRS did not comment on their current status to the Post.

The Cultural Brokerage Agency has also allegedly faced multiple legal challenges for not paying worker benefits.

The Worker’s Compensation Board fined the company $17,000 for not carrying worker’s compensation insurance between March 2017 and February 2018. It currently owes $62,722 and no payments have been received to date reports The Post. Workers’ compensation is paid out when an employee is hurt at work and misses time.

A former employee of Ms James said her company relied on unpaid interns who worked full-time jobs.

“I experienced a lot of harassment when I worked for her,” said the employee, adding: “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.” The employee was later terminated.

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