Can You Afford Free? Taxes Spoil the Game Show Win

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You've seen the game shows where contestants hop around the stage excited beyond belief at the possibility of winning cash and prizes. Most notably, among shows that give away merchandise is The Price Is Right (TPIR). Contestants who win the big prize, known as the Showcase Showdown, can scoop up tens of thousands of dollars in trips, appliances, sports and recreation equipment, cars, etc. What you don't see, according to some of the winners, is when the other shoe drops. That is, the tax shoe – and it drops fast.

Win the prize, pay the tax piper
Most of us know if we win a cash prize, there are taxes to pay. Big prizes mean big taxes. But many game show contestants don't realize when they win merchandise, there's also tax to pay, and you might not get out the door with your prize until some of that tax is paid.

When the prize is merchandise or travel – a washer/dryer, a new car, a cruise – it's a different ball game. Just ask Andrea Schwartz, who is warning unsuspecting game show contestants. 

Last year, Schwartz was thrilled to win $33,000 in prizes on TPIR. The list of goodies included a pool table, a shuffleboard table, and a red Mazda2. After the show, she was whisked backstage for a dose of reality – the tax issues. 

TPIR is filmed in California. Schwartz found out the hard way that when you win prizes in the Golden State, you don't get to wait until you file your tax return to pay the taxes. If you want the prize, you pay right then and there, said Schwartz.

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About Teresa Ambord

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By Ginny
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Nothing is ever FREE

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By DeiVias
to te
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Unless you live in a country that doesn't tax you on prizes you win.

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By Jerry
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

They should make these shows in Florida where there is no state income tax.

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By radarksu
to chw
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Or Texas. Or The show should just include an additional cash prize to pay the taxes for them.

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By Brad
to thoodcpa
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Then the contestant would have to pay tax on the tax that the show paid.

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By Lakawak
to jeffratliff
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

So they add enough of a cash prize to cover the tax on the prizes, plus the tax on the money. So..say they won $25,000 worth of prizes. And less say they just pick 25% as the average tax bracket for contestants. They would offer 33% more than the value of the prizes because that would be enough to cover the taxes on the prizes, plus the extra cash given.

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By bayman
to chw
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Yea, but if you are not from Florida, you have to pay the tax in the state you live in.

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By Mean Joe Green WOLFPACK
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

#WOLFPACK
#WE'REWOLF

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By Geoff Jacobs
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Not even worth being on the stinking show, then?!

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By greeninja
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Ok, so she payed $2,500 for a car, plus all the other stuff. Such a horrible deal!! I get that it may be a surprise for some people, but come on. Plus yeah the pool table and shuffleboard were worth 14,000, well she made money still selling it and after the taxes.

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By Derek
to PrestonWertz
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Aint that something that you win a car and you are almost just getting screwed by the government for winning. Not right. They should come up with something that at least allows someone who is poor the chance to get their prize and sell it to pay the taxes and then keep whats leftover.

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By London Goode
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Does anyone know about Illinois or Florida??

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By Robert Maybeth
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Then why bother going on these silly shows in the first place. If you won "survivor" of course you don't get $1 million. You net about $600 large. This is fact.

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By malk
to mwoodruf99
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

you're right, who the hell[***] wants "600 large"...

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By bayman
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

These shows KNOW most people cannot afford their prizes, it is just a marketing ploy. An advertisement for the products on the show. Like others say, no need to go on the show because you cannot afford it. Unless you are already rich, then what would be the point? The only thing you can afford are the cash prizes because you can use part of the money to pay the taxes. These game shows are worthless. I do not even waste my time watching them. They give people FALSE hope.

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By VoiceofReason
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

I want to win the Travel Channel 100k trip to Hawaii, but I'm scared of the taxes.

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By Derek
to qbnumberus
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

I dont blame u.

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By Lakawak
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

This winner was stupid then. You can challenge the value of those prizes if they are inflated. And if you can show that you could buy them for a lower prize, that is all you have to claim on your taxes.

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By Lakawak
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Who DIDN'T know this already? This is why Wheel of Fortune stopped doing their showcase shopping. IT is also why when they did do that, many contestants would buy the cheapest stuff they could so that they would have the most amount on a gift certificate. Since at least that could be used for something they need instead of a lawn gnome that shows an inflated price.

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By justme
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Same happens to the ones that win the million dollar house from HGTV. Most keep the furniture and sell the house. Such a shame

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