Monday, January 29, 2007

Perhaps next time Oracle could also offer a cash prize

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Brian Emmett's childhood fantasy came true when he won a free trip to outer space.

But the 31-year-old was crushed when he had to cancel his reservation because of Uncle Sam.

Emmett won his ticket to the stars in a 2005 sweepstakes by Oracle Corp., in which he answered a series of online questions on Java computer code.

He became an instant celebrity, giving media interviews and appearing on stage at Oracle's trade show.

For the self-described space buff who has attended space camp and watched shuttle launches from Kennedy Space Center, it seemed like a chance to become an astronaut on a dime.

Then reality hit. After some number-crunching, Emmett realized he would have to report the $138,000 galactic joy ride as income and owe $25,000 in taxes.

Unwilling to sink into debt, the software consultant from the San Francisco Bay area gave up his seat.

"There was definitely a period of mourning. I was totally crestfallen," Emmett said. "Everything you had hoped for as a kid sort of evaporates in front of you." (continued)

An incomplete thought on the part of the team that offered this trip as a prize. I've been on a prize committee in my lifetime and understand it's hard to balance the cool factor with the tax factor. If Oracle offers this prize again they either need to offer a cash prize that, after taxes, equals the amount of taxes for the trip or they need to convince the government to make trips to space tax exempt.


Avitable said...

I'm sure he could have worked out an arrangement with the IRS, and just set his withholding over the next few years to pull out extra cash. It sounds like he gave up, which is kinda ridiculous.

Poppy Cede said...

A bit lame on his part, but I can definitely appreciate his logic. I am not paying $25k in taxes unless I'm wealthy, and even then I'm adverse to the idea.

Anonymous said...

I hate Oracle, though it may be only because it has dominated my career for the last 15 years.