You Won’t Believe How Redd Foxx Paid Off His Taxes—John Witherspoon’s Hilarious Story

John Witherspoon’s comedic story about Redd Foxx’s tax troubles has gained new life on social media. The late Witherspoon appeared on “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast in 2019 just months before his death.

John Witherspoon, photo via Instagram @johnwitherspoon

A resurfaced clip circulating on social media features Witherspoon recalling how Foxx twice failed to pay his taxes, with the first incident involving the assistance of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. during their heydays.

Foxx Did What?

On May 29, 2019, Witherspoon and his son and impressionist, Witherspoon Jr., who also goes by J.D., joined Rogan for a sit-down. They discussed stand-up comedy and its pioneers like Richard Pryor who achieved breakout success.

In the midst of the conversation, the elderly Witherspoon, who transitioned from stand-up to TV and movie roles, mentioned Foxx among the comics who exceeded expectations.

He noted Foxx’s cultural influence, spanning from his performances on the Chitlin’ Circuit —a network of entertainment venues serving Black audiences and featuring Black performers during the era of Jim Crow segregation through the 1960s — to his iconic portrayal of Fred on the hit TV sitcom “Sanford and Son.”

Foxx also owned a nightclub, Redd Foxx Club in Los Angeles during the late 1960s for Black performers, making him the first Black business owner in Beverly Hills, NPR reported.

Perhaps a major flaw in Foxx’s real life was that he did not like to pay the IRS what he owed, jeopardizing his milestone club. As reported by the Los Angeles Times in 1989, Foxx, who filed for and was declared bankrupt under Chapter 11 protection in 1983, had his Las Vegas home seized after owing $1.6 million in taxes to the IRS for periods before 1983 and more than $800,000 to other creditors.

In addition to his Las Vegas home being seized, the report mentions his Los Angeles home being hit by an IRS raid as well, the very same raid that Witherspoon remembers very well.

“He wasn’t paying his taxes. The government came in [his Los Angeles home] one night … took everything. They took the ring off his finger, his shoes, left him a chicken, raw, to cook. They shut him down,” Witherspoon recalled.

“He called Sammy Davis, Sammy called Frank Sinatra, ‘They took everything I own, I work so hard to be where I am, (inaudible crying in Foxx’s voice),'” Witherspoon recalls the incident. “So Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., and some other friends, went to his club, two or three days a week, two shows, sold them out, give him enough money to pay his taxes and to get his club back.”

When the shows were over and the money was collected, Witherspoon told Rogan, “Redd Foxx still did not pay his f––ing taxes!” Rogan was stunned yet laughed.

“They put a lien on his f––ing a––, that son of a b––!” Witherspoon reported.

Foxx at one point made $4 million in one year while working as a comedian entertaining audiences at the famous Hacienda Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. He was earning $20,000 a week, but a significant amount of that money was designated for the IRS, the Times reported. His manager, Prince Spencer, revealed that Foxx had received a substantial payment of $500,000 for his performance in the movie “Harlem Nights.”

However, Foxx famously lived beyond his means, leading to various financial troubles, including settlements and alimony payments to his ex-wives. He spent over $150,000 on his second wife, Betty Jean, which included a $10,000 temporary support payment and around $38,000 for her legal fees in 1974, according to Jet Magazine.

Jet also reported in 1981 that Foxx paid a $300,000 divorce settlement to his third wife, Joy Yun Chi.

Foxx died in 1991 from a heart attack on the set of his CBS series “The Royal Family,” which was set to premiere in September 1992. He was 68 years old.

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