IRS Declares War on Swag


Swag–those wonderful free promotional gifts that make jobs from record store clerk (I wore my free, untaxed Guns 'r Roses T-shirt for years in the go-go '80s with nary a declaration of value to any tax authority) to, um, multimillionaire movie star, more palatable–is in the IRS's sights.

This year, the free gift bags given out at every celeb gathering, award show, gala, and festival, full of expensive items that companies want stars to be seen using/wearing will come with a tax form, and recipients will be legally on the hook for taxes on the value of the items. The IRS deems them not true gifts, since, in the words of an IRS statement, "Organizations and merchants who participate in giving the gift bags do not do so solely out of affection, respect or similar impulses for the recipients."

As a result, after this year, the Oscars at least will be killing off the gift bag entirely. The effects on the LA economy, with one less reason to leave the house, have not yet been calculated.