At this year's annual Emmy Awards on Sunday night, star presenters, like Daily Show anchor Jon Stewart and Desperate Housewife Felicity Huffman, will be asked to fill out IRS forms before they receive their lavish goodie bags. This marks a new effort to make sure that celebs report their freebies to the IRS.
"There is no special red-carpet tax loophole for the stars," said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. "Whether you're popping the popcorn, sitting in the audience or starring on the big screen, you need to respect the law and pay your taxes."
This year's famed gift bags (pictured above) are reportedly worth some $30,000 and include gift certificates to a luxury hotel chain with locations in Hawaii and the Bahamas, a one-year membership to the exclusive Sports Club LA, including private training sessions, the latest Sprint cell phone that can download music and numerous other gift certificates to spas and restaurants, including one for a private dinner party at Morton's steakhouse.
Last week, the IRS issued a statement announcing an outreach effort to inform the entertainment industry that gift bags and other promotional goodies often received by celebrities are taxable. This followed an agreement between the IRS and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which also provided lavish gift bags to Oscar presenters, to settle tax obligations for those bags given through 2005.
"The gift basket industry has exploded," said Commissioner Everson, "and it's important that the groups running these events keep in mind the tax consequences."
In the wake of that agreement, the Television Academy has recommended to this year's presenters, which also include 24's Keifer Sutherland and former Friend Matthew Perry, that they consult with their personal financial advisors on how to properly report the gifts.
The Television Academy will be issuing 1099 forms to presenters, and they will be asked to complete the forms before they receive their gift bags.
The Academy of Motion Pictures, however, has voted to drop the practice of gift bags all together. So from now on the only people leaving the Oscar ceremonies with their hands full will be the award winners.