The Hollywood swag bags aren't as 'free' as advertised.
Many people probably dream of going to a major Hollywood event and getting one of the free "swag bags" we all hear about, filled with expensive items from major brands.
But in the case of the 2023 "Everyone Wins" gift bags given out to all of the nominees at the Academy Awards, they aren't as free as they initially seem.
According to Forbes, everything in the gift bags is taxable income, and a lot was included in this year's bags–about $126,000 worth.
The publication calculated how much the Oscar nominees would be required to pay in taxes to both the IRS and the state of California for what was advertised as a gift.
Based on the 37 percent IRS tax rate, the swag bags would cost $46,620 per person. Add the California tax rate of about 13.3 percent, which would be around $16,000, and the total tax could be up to $63,378.
Included in the Oscars gift bags this year were treatments for chemical peels, laser skin resurfacing, Botox, and more from Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevich worth up to $10,000, a $12,000 arm liposuction procedure, and a stay at The Lifestyle in Canada worth around $40,000, among other things.
Related: How Much the 2023 Oscars Statuette Is Really Worth
Celebrities like Oscar nominees Austin Butler and Angela Bassett can decline the gifts or only accept certain items, keeping in mind that they will have to pay taxes for them.
On the other hand, the companies donating the services or other products hoping to get some promotion out of it can write them off as business expenses.
In a press release, Lash Fary, the CEO of the company behind the Oscars swag bags, Distinctive Assets, said of the gifts, "While this gift bag does, as always, have an impressive value, that is neither our focus nor goal. This is a straightforward win/win."
Fary went on, "These nominees are in a unique position to help participating brands immeasurably by simply wearing, using and talking about these products. Marketing and advertising can and must co-exist with the ever-present reporting of bad news globally. This isn't frivolity; it is basic economics."
The Oscars gave out official gifts until 2006 due to a clash with the IRS over whether or not they were taxable, and now, outside companies like Distinctive Assets organize the gift bags for the big events.
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