Tax man threat to swag bags

Those “swag bags” that show biz celebrities, and occasionally well known journalists, receive at such events as the Oscars and the Emmys and even the Golden Globes have finally  caught the attention of the American taxman. 


The IRS is threatening to tax the gifts in the goody-bags – which sometimes can  be worth as much as  $20,000 to $30,000.   Often they include expensive perfumes, cell-phones, even free holiday-trips.    Attendees at this year’s Emmy Awards, which takes place later this month, have all received letters from the Academy of  Television Arts & Sciences which sponsors the event advising them they may have to pay income tax on any “freebies” they receive. 


Every celebrity has been asked to  sign and return a letter acknowledging their responsibility.  “No letter, no gift bag” they have been warned. The Academy may even have to provide the IRS with a list of all recipients.  How have the celebrities reacted?  The manager for Kathryn Josten, one the actresses in  Desperate Housewives,  who is up for an award, told the NY Post  she would probably decline to accept a gift bag.   “My client” he said “ has had goody   bags in the past and she doesn’t  even want half the stuff.” 


Sometimes the bags include tickets for free trips to places like Hawaii, New  Zealand and the Bahamas.  Or free hotel stays.  Most stars and journalists who sometimes  take part officially  in the award ceremonies claim they  often don’t have  the time to take  the trips  – and  certainly don’t want  to pay taxes on trips they may never make.


One regular attendee  at awards ceremonies in Hollywood and New York predicted “This is the end of  a nice perk, the end of the goodie bag era.”  

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