Attendees will receive $600 in tax-free gifts

Presents for presenters are a thing of the past at the Golden Globe Awards.

Presenters at the 64th annual awards Monday night will go home without the usual multithousand-dollar swag bags. However, the 1,200 attendees (including those presenting awards) will still receive goodie bags containing about $600 in tax-free gifts.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and the Internal Revenue Service have agreed that the HFPA will pay income tax for the presenter boxes for 2004 and 2005 and will assist the ’06 crowd in filing tax forms.

While the actual dollar amount the HFPA paid in back taxes was undisclosed, org prexy Philip Berk called the figure “substantial.”

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the IRS,” Berk told Daily Variety on Wednesday. “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.”

Although presenters from those years are in the clear, the HFPA will issue informational 1099 tax forms to recipients of 2006 boxes, who will be responsible for satisfying their income tax obligations.

Last summer, Daily Variety broke the story that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences had reached an agreement with the IRS over their awards show gifts to presenters and performers (Daily Variety, Aug. 17).

In September, the HFPA voted to discontinue the presenters’ gift boxes.

The HFPA approached the IRS seeking to clarify the tax issues surrounding the presenter boxes, as well as to ensure that any obligations for the prior years were met.

Following the Oscar shakeup, 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.

Last summer, the IRS reps said they were targeting swag that could be considered income for work — i.e., when celebs are given freebies after performing or making an appearance. Generally, swag given to guests would not fit this definition.

“We appreciate the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. 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.”

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