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Michael Jackson was broke as a joke when he died ... so the IRS tax attack is showing a glaring ignorance ... so claim the people who run the MJ Estate.Sources connected with the Estate tell TMZ ... they never suggested the Beatles catalog was worth ZERO -- to the contrary they agree it's worth around $1.5 BILLION.That said ... sources say there's a reason they put a big fat zero in the Beatles column when they filed tax returns just after Michael died. They say there was a $700 million loan taken against the purchase of the catalog, bringing the net value to $800 million. Michael and Sony were 50/50 partners ... which means Michael's share was around $400 million. Now the debt. Michael leveraged his interest to the hilt -- he borrowed $320 million against the catalog. And He owed another $200 million in personal debt ... And that's why they put ZERO.One bone of contention -- although the Estate values the catalog at $1.5 billion, the IRS says it's DOUBLE that amount.Estate sources say the IRS is also off base on the issue of MJ's likeness and image, which they valued at only $2,105 at the time he died. The IRS says it's worth more like $434 million.