070:336 Taxes

April 15th is the traditional day when Americans are to file their income taxes. However, for 2017, that deadline has been pushed back because the 15th falls on a Saturday and the next applicable workday – Monday, April 17 – is a holiday in the District of Columbia as they celebrate Emancipation Day and so the federal offices will be closed that day.

So, federal income taxes this year are due on Tuesday.

I have been paying taxes since I graduated from Northwestern University and that first tax bill for me in April of 1991 was the highest I have ever paid. After only being out of college for less than a year, I had to write a check to the United States Treasury for a shade under fourteen thousand dollars.

Granted, this was because I was fortunate enough to have earned a tad over forty-nine thousand dollars by being on the game show Tic-Tac-Dough. Of that total, $33,500 was in straight cash and the tax rate on those liquid winnings was about 28% (give or take). The remaining $16,210 that was appended to my grand total was in the amount of prizes that I had won during the show’s bonus rounds. Of the eight bonus rounds, I won six of them and managed to take home a fair number of prizes.

What you may not know is that when a person wins a prize on television program, they are responsible for paying the taxes for that prize. That tax is based off of the retail price that the program says the item is worth. If you recall that time when Oprah Winfrey surprised all of her audience members by awarded them a car, each of those people – if they agreed to take the vehicle – had to pay a hefty tax bill.

For me, I was on the hook for the eighteen items I had won. For each item, the producers of the game show had provided their estimate of the worth of the prize. A pleasant loophole in the tax law is that if I could find an advertised price on the same item that was less than the price the producers had provided, then I would only be responsible for the tax on the lower price. All told I was able knock down the bill on five of the items. I also reduced my bill by not accepting two of the items I won.

So what ever happened to those prizes that I won back in September of 1990?

These are some of their stories.

Gibson Epiphone Guitar

I tried to learn how to play this instrument for all of about six months. One day, in March of 1991, I was shopping at one of favorite book stores, Fahrenheit 451 in Laguna Beach, when I saw a sign and a donation box by the cash register. The store was asking for funds to help one of their employees – a part-time musician – who had had his guitars stolen from his van. Instead of plunking in any money, I went home, dusted off the Epiphone, brought it to the store, and donated it.

Sam Moore Lounge Chair & Ottoman

This is what the prize looked like when it was shown on the television program…


This piece of furniture, which I lovingly call “the ugly green leather chair” has been with me to Utah, San Diego, Virginia, Peru, and Thailand. Almost a quarter of a century later, I still have it and I think it still looks great…


Pinkseeker Golf Clubs

During each bonus round on Tic-Tac-Dough, there was always the opportunity for me to stop playing and walk away with whatever money I had accumulated. However, this would have meant I would have forfeited the prizes. In my second bonus round, I saw that one of the prizes was a set of golf clubs. Now, golf and I do not get along so I did not care to win this prize, but my brother is an avid golfer. Therefore, even when it seemed like I could not win the bonus round and game theory says I should have called it quits, I kept going with the belief that I would prevail. Which I did and I gave the clubs to my brother.

La-Z-Boy Sofa

This is another piece of furniture that I won that would come with me to Utah and San Diego, but in America’s Finest City is where our way would part. Before my lovely wife and I moved to Virginia, we donated the sofa to my brother.

Ashley Table Set

Below is a screen grab of what this prize looked like when it shown to me in the studio during the bonus round.


As you can see from the picture above, the original set had a three items. Like the Sam Moore chair, this trio of wood-looking items travelled the globe with me from Utah to San Diego to Virginia to Peru to Thailand. However, along the way, two of the pieces were busted until we are left with this sole survivor (pictured above).

Those are some of their stories.

P.S. If you want to know why I don’t like golf anymore…well, that’s a story for another day.


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