The government's never-ending quest to find new and expanded ways to define taxable income has reached a new frontier: review copies of books. Professors who receive review copies of expensive textbooks from publishers, beware. Amazon wrote today to reviewers who participate in its Vine program that provides free review copies of books and sometimes other products. The reviewers aren't paid by Amazon for their writing: "Starting July 1, 2015 you will be required to provide valid tax information by completing Amazon's tax questionnaire to continue participating in the Vine program.....As of that date, we will be tracking the value of products you order through Amazon Vine. If you exceed the threshold of $600 in aggregated product value within a calendar year, you will be issued a 1099-MISC at the end of that year."
Also from the Amazon tax Q and A for Vine reviewers:
Can I return my Vine item after reviewing so I do not have to pay taxes?
What's next? Is the government going to start taxing news organizations on the value of their free seats at sporting events, concerts, plays and movie screenings? Will the New York Review of Books and the New York Times Book Review have to start paying taxes on the value of their review copies?