Tax Issues End Golden Globes Gift Baskets

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the annual Golden Globe Awards, said Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service to satisfy past tax obligations on the gift packages, or swag, given to awards-show presenters. HFPA also said that it will end the practice of having these gifts provided, beginning with the upcoming awards program, being held Monday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The HFPA said in a statement that it voluntarily approached the IRS last year seeking to clarify the tax issues surrounding the presenter boxes, as well as to ensure that any obligations for the prior years were met. Under the agreement, the HFPA and the IRS have settled the tax obligations with respect to presenter boxes given through 2005. The HFPA will issue appropriate informational tax forms to recipients of 2006 boxes, who will be responsible for satisfying their income tax obligations, and beginning with 2007, the HFPA has ceased giving presenter boxes.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the IRS,” said Philip Berk, HFPA president. “We thought it only proper that we assume the tax burden for 2004 and 2005; we felt it didn’t seem fair to ask those who had donated their services to pay additional tax after they had already filed tax returns for those years.”

About a year ago, the IRS started an outreach campaign aimed at the entertainment industry. This effort focused on distribution of celebrity gift bags and presenter boxes in conjunction with appearances by the stars at award shows and other gatherings.

“We appreciate the Hollywood Foreign Press Association coming forward to resolve this issue,” IRS commissioner Mark W. Everson said. “We’re pleased that the groups holding award ceremonies are keeping in mind the tax consequences of gift bags and other promotional items.”