Paul L. Caron

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Tax Treatment of Oscars

Oscar_4Following up on prior posts on the rule requiring Nobel Prize winners to include the prize in their income (links below): Ben Leff (American) passed along this CNN article for Tax Profs who discuss in class whether the prohibition on the sale of Oscars by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' renders the award non-taxable to the recipents:

CNN, Orson Welles' 'Citizen Kane' Oscar brings $861,000:

The Oscar given Orson Welles for "Citizen Kane" some 70 years ago sold for $861,542 in an online auction that ended Tuesday, a Los Angeles auction house said.

The best screenplay award for 1941 was the only Academy Award for the legendary writer, director, actor, although he was given an honorary award "for superlative artistry and versatility in the creation of motion pictures" nearly 30 years later.

Nate D. Sanders Auctions did not identify the winning bidder, but the company did reveal that illusionist David Copperfield was an unsuccessful bidder. ...

The golden statuette's controversial history includes a court fight with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which tried to stop another auction in 2003. An academy official testified then that the award's value was at least $1 million.

A judge cleared the way for auction with a ruling in 2004 that Welles never signed the academy's agreement not to sell the trophy, according to Nate D. Sanders Auctions spokesman Sam Heller.

The academy, which aggressively challenges efforts to sell Oscar trophies, was successful three years ago in stopping the sale of two Oscars awarded to silent film star Mary Pickford. A Los Angeles jury ruled the descendants of a woman who was married to Pickford's third husband could only sell the statuettes back to the academy for a price of $10.

Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink

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I do not think that we law profs should worry ourselves sick over the income value of things such as teaching, public service awards, etc.

Posted by: Bill | Dec 22, 2011 8:15:23 AM