Oscars ‘Free’ Swag Bags to Cost Nominees a $63,000 Tax Hit

Danish filmmaker Elvira Lind (L) and producer Sofia Sondervan (R), Oscar nominated for Bes
Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

The “free” $126,000 gift bags that were handed out to Hollywood A-list Oscars attendees also came with a hefty tax bill, according to reports.

This year’s bag was reportedly stocked with $126,000 worth of freebies to Oscars attendees. The gifts inside included a $40,000 Canadian getaway, a $400 bottle of “gender neutral” perfume, a $435 box of sweet dates, a $12,00 voucher for “body sculpting,” and much more among its more than 60 gifts.

But the IRS and California’s state tax men also have their eyes on the prize. This year’s gift bag has an invisible “gift” inside: a $63,000 tax bill.

According to Forbes magazine, the IRS slapped a $46,000 tax bill on the gift bag while the state of California dipped its hands in to pull out another $16,000.

The magazine does note that these bills would be total for the entire package and some celebrities pick and choose the gifts from the bags made up by Hollywood company Distinctive Assets, so they won’t be hit with the full tax bill. They’ll be charged only for what they take.

Regardless, any of the free gifts must be declared as taxable income in both federal and state tax returns.

In fact, for all the hype about the gift bags, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences stopped making the swag bags an official part of the ceremony back in 2006 because the tax bill had risen so high and Hollywood could not persuade the IRS to ignore the whole thing, Forbes added. The gift bags are now simply part of the milieu of Oscars night, but not part of the official ceremony. Today, instead of the bags being given out at the Oscars, celebs contact Distinctive Assets to have their staffers deliver them.

It isn’t hard to see why the IRS salivates over the revenue it could grab from the bags. This year’s bag was worth $126,000, but recent bags were worth far more. Indeed, in recent years they were worth hundreds of thousands.
Last year’s bag, for instance, was worth a bit more at $137,000, according to Fortune magazine. But that is nothing compared to the total for the 2021 bag, which soared to $205,000, nor does it come anywhere near the incredible $225,000 haul from 2020.

But as the Beatles said, with the taxman “you’re working for no one but me.” And even Hollywood’s A-listers can’t escape him.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston, or Truth Social @WarnerToddHuston


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