Saturday, January 24, 2015

Compensation for donating eggs is (taxable) income

Kim Krawiec at the Faculty Lounge finishes the story of the woman who claimed in tax court that her income from donating eggs for infertile couples was not taxable income, but rather payment for pain and suffering:

Taxing Eggs: The Decision

Regular Lounge readers may recall the Taxing Eggs Mini-Symposium we held here last February, which gathered a number of tax experts to discuss Perez v. Commissioner, No. 9103-12 (Feb. 14, 2014) (Holmes, J.), the first case addressing the inclusion in taxable income (and perhaps the proper characterization) of compensation received for the sale or donation of human eggs and related services. 
The decision was filed today and, as predicted by our panel of experts, held that the money received by Perez was not “damages” under I.R.C. section 104(a)(2) and must be included in gross income. Because both parties agreed that the payment was for services, however, the case doesn't address any capital gains issues.  
From the opinion, which is available here
We see no limit on the mischief that ruling in Perez’s favor might cause: A professional boxer could argue that some part of the payments he received for his latest fight is excludable because they are payments for his bruises, cuts, and nosebleeds. A hockey player could argue that a portion of his million-dollar salary is allocable to the chipped teeth he invariably suffers during his career. And the same would go for the brain injuries suffered by football players and the less-noticed bodily damage daily endured by working men and women on farms and ranches, in mines, or on fishing boats. We don’t doubt that some portion of the compensation paid all these people reflects the risk that they will feel pain and suffering, but it’s a risk of pain and suffering that they agree to before they begin their work. And that makes it taxable compensation and not excludable damages. 
I note that the case includes citations to articles by three of our Taxing Eggs participants: Bridget Crawford, Lisa Milot, and me. 
 (Oh my, this post does contain the three cardinal sins of blogging: content links, use of the first person, and self-promotion. Oops, I just did it again).
(HT: Lisa Milot)

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