The 2014 MTV Video Music Mtv_moon_manAwards are back.  It has become a celebration of something MTV famously doesn’t show much any more- the music video.  Despite it, the VMAs are one of the biggest television and social media events of the year.  During 2013, almost 19 million tweets were sent about the VMAs during the MTV pre-show and the event itself, accounting for more than 90 percent of all TV-related conversation on Twitter that weekend.

So, why not capitalize on some of that traffic for those who are tired of the commercials and want to know the answers to questions like- What is the moon man award worth?  What do the presenters get? And is this all taxable income?  Well, 2 out of 3 aren’t bad.

The “Moon Man”

The astronaut / space theme has been with MTV since its beginnings and the Moonman Trophy is no exception.

The stats?  The version that winners will take home is around 12″ tall and weighs 7 pounds, 11 ounces.  Actual value of the materials isn’t overly significant as it appears to be made of composite materials.  In other words, that is not real silver or gold that you could melt down.  The award statue was originally designed by Manhattan Design, which also created the MTV logo.  Brooklyn Artist KAWS redesigned the VMAs’ Moonman award in 2013, giving the silver spaceman his first facelift in 30 years. The change was discussed here:

The trophy has little to no tax consequence UNLESS the recipient sells it.  Although it is not full of precious metal and value, the statute does have value.  The range of value in the aftermarket has been from $6000 to over $60,000.

31241_2Lots of moon men have been for sale at auction.  An MTV Moonman from 1995-1996 for Best Video from a Film for Coolio featuring L.V.’s “Gangsta’s Paradise (Dangerous Minds)” presented to Coolio was sold at auction for $6,080.  One from Michael Jackson fetched 10 times that- one he won for “1994-1995/ Best Choreography/ Michael Jackson/ Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson/ Scream” sold for about $60,000.  A gold-toned moonman award for the song, “We Are The World,”  which read, “MTV Video Music Award/ 1984-1985/ Best Group Video/ USA for Africa.”  was sold for $72,000.  Michael Jackson’s MTV Video Music Award for “Thriller” was on the auction block and was expected to fetch more than $100,000.  The amount appears to have been half of that.

Someone tried to sell a plain Moonman on the History Channel’s Pawn Stars, but it had no plaque and the guys didn’t bite as it wasn’t a “famous person’s award.”

By contrast, the Oscar, also known as the Academy Award, cannot be sold, as the AMPAS has required all winners since 1950 to enter into a legal contract requiring winners to offer the Academy the Academy Award for $1 if the winner or their estate ever wishes to resell the trophy. The last Academy Award to be sold to someone besides the Academy, sold in a 2011 auction for $861,542.  The materials to make one is probably about $1000.  This limits tax consequence as well.

Swag Bags – The REAL Problem

Huffington Post reporter, Sasha Bronner, broke down the bags being handed out to nominees, presenters and performers at the MTV VMA award show here.

It included:

o-GIFTBAGTABLE-5701. Ascot + Hart Trucker Hat
2. Brookstone Perfect Drink: “A revolution in home bartending, Perfect Drink’s smart scale and free app let you choose from hundreds of drink recipes, follow real-time pouring instructions, and watch as a virtual glass fills on your smartphone or tablet.”

3. gTar Smart Guitar: “The gTar is an app-enabled smart guitar that can teach you how to play, make music and then share it with your friends.”

o-COMBO-5704. DenTek Oral Care Floss Picks
5. Swiss Legend Wristwatches: “The Swiss Legend Skyline chronograph for men features a slide-rule bezel to calculate rate, time and distance as well as a striking coin-edge detail on the outer rim of the bezel that adds distinction. The Swiss Legend Titanio wristwatch makes a high-fashion statement in titanium-finished ceramic.”
6. Smart Ass Game: “The ultimate trivia card game where you can win even if you’re a dumb ass.”

7. Williams-Sonoma Open Kitchen Tumblers: “Set of six.”
8. Pure Plant Home Candles: “Coconut wax candles with real essential oil aromas for conscious living.”

9. Lipault Paris Satchel: “24-inch 2-wheeled satchel.”
10. Rolf Bleu Slouch Beanieo-GUITAR-570

11. Brevity Necklace
12. Calvin Klein Eyewear by Marchon
13. MPowered Luci Aura Light: “An inflatable, color-changing solar lantern with a frosted body. A sustainable light that is perfect for celebrations, pool parties and home decor. Cycles through colors like a lava lamp, floats on water and lasts all night.”o-BROOKSTONE-570

14. Botran Rum: “The Botran family has been the creator of premium rum from Guatemala for more than six decades. Rums are aged for up to 15 year in oaken barrels, which yield the rum’s polished mahogany color.”
15. SoCal Hot Yoga Studio membership
16. Lenox Picture Frame: “Hundreds of raised beads grace the frame. White beads form a swirled motif against a pearlescent background. Borders of shimmering platinum the design and photo.”
17. Sisters of Los Angeles Freeway Shot Glasses: “The set of four includes the 101, the 10, the 405 & the 5.”
18. Logitech Computer Mouseo-GLASSES-570
19. MOBOT Bottle: “Handcrafted designer bottle and is the world’s first and only travel foam-roller and water bottle in one package.”
20. Wildfox Couture Cami Set & Eye Mask
21. Body Bark: “A luxurious line of sophisticated tops and lounge wear that is made in the USA from sustainable fiber.”
22. CM Cia Maritima Beachwear Bikini: “Leading high-end brand of swimwear in Brazil.”
23. House of CB Dresses
24. Invitation Consultants Note Cards
25. Nomination Italy jewelry: “Collection comprises necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets available in 18k gold and stainless steel.”
26. Dirty Words: “Roll the dice and create sentences based on the words showing.”

Yard sale at MTV?  That is disappointing.

That swag is nothing in comparison with the bags given out at other awards presentations.  Those often include precious jewelry, exotic trips and can be worth well in excess of $100,000 each.  That presents value and hefty tax consequence.  Each recipient will receive an IRS 1099 Form reporting the value of what each got.  Some might not even think it is worth it to accept it.

Frequently asked questions:

Q: Can’t you argue this was a “gift” and you aren’t being paid?

A: Nope, you lose. You must report it on your tax return.

Q: What about gift certificates or vouchers for trips or personal services?

A: If you redeem the certificates or vouchers you must include the fair market value of the trip or service on your tax return.

Q: If these are gifts, why are they income?

A: They’re not gifts for tax purposes. The organizations and merchants don’t give them solely out of affection or respect.

So, if you don’t want to pay taxes on some of the junk in this bag, leave it at home.  Better yet, donate it to a worthy cause.  Someone will likely pay more just because of what it is and who had it.

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