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Oprah Memo


Submitted By danvo24
Words 522
Pages 3
June 23, 2015
Research Memorandum
FROM: Dan Vo
SUBJECT: Oprah’s Pontiac G6 Giveaway

Oprah opened her 2004-2005 season by giving away 276 Pontiac G6 on September 13, 2004. The problem arises when the people who received the cars should or should not include the value of the car in their taxable income for that year. The car’s designated value was $28,000. There has been debate on whether Oprah’s car was a gift or a prize. The IRS determined it was a prize because the audience had to apply for the seats on the show, and Oprah responded by picking people who needed the cars (MarketWatch, 2004). IRS Regulation 1.74-1 states “Prizes or awards which are includible in gross income include (but are not limited to) amounts received from radio and television giveaway shows.”

In 2000, the first season of Survivor aired and its winner was rewarded $1 million. Richard Hatch claimed his prize as the winner of that season. However, he failed to claim the earnings on his taxable income for the next 6 years and was convicted of tax evasion. In the case United States v. Richard Hatch, Hatch violated 26 U.S.C. §§ 7201, which states “any person who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax imposed by this title shall be imprisoned…” He also violated 26 U.S.C. §§ 7206, which prevents fraud and false statements. Hatch was sentenced to 51 months in prison, and was still forced to pay his taxes.

In another case, Turner v. Commissioner, the defendant won two steamship tickets on a radio quiz show and reported only $520 from the tickets in his gross income. The IRS determined that the tickets should have been reported at the full retail price of $2,200. Thus, causing a deficiency in his taxes. However, under Section 74 in Section 61, the Tax Court had “emphasized objective factors in determining the amount to be included in the taxpayer’s

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