Tax implications of giving out prizes/raffles for my startup customers


I've ran a few contests / giveaways on my site for new customers. So far I've given away a color nook, 2 rounds of golf, and 2 ski lift tickets. Just some stuff to get people more active in the site.

I formed an LLC and I'm the sole proprietor. I am going to write those off as business expenses since I used them to generate leads / traffic / marketing. For tax purposes, is that good enough or do I need to also provide who I've actually sent stuff to?

Some background: Sole proprietor LLC in Pennsylvania, all expenses have been paid out of my personal account and I plan on filing taxes as a sole proprietorship with my personal taxes.


Edit: Let me clarify, I have the peoples names and addresses (since I mailed them their prize). Do I need anything other than that? I cringe at asking for more information from them.

Marketing LLC Tax Promotion

asked Jan 18 '12 at 05:03
31 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • You need to consult your attorney and/or accountant. There are limits on the value of prizes a person can *receive* without paying the tax on them. – Dnbrv 12 years ago
  • It is a giveway arising out of business compulsion and NOT without any consideration. This should be allowed in full as business expenses. In such a situation, it is always better to check with your attorney. – Natwar Lath 12 years ago

2 Answers


You ask "For tax purposes, is that good enough or do I need to also provide who I've actually sent stuff to?" You should definitely keep a record of who got the stuff. The reason for this is if you get called in for an IRS audit how can you establish that you didn't simply sell the items for cash and keep the cash for your personal use?

Another reason for keeping the records is to establish that the give away was in fact to help the business. The record should show that the prizes went to actual customers and legitimate prospects rather than your girl friend or your cousin.

answered Jan 18 '12 at 17:51
Jonny Boats
4,848 points


On a slightly tangential note: make sure that you're aware of the federal and state laws regarding contests. My understanding is that it's illegal to require people to purchase something in order to enter your contest unless you have a gambling license. This is why you'll see "no purchase required" clauses in the rules sections of most sweepstakes.

Wikipedia looks like a good place to start, and here is a link to California's laws.

answered Jan 19 '12 at 02:47
383 points
  • The way it works is for every referral that someone sends to my site and that person becomes a member, they get 1 entry into a drawing. At the end of a period I draw a name and award the prize. – Jared 12 years ago

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