Cindy Stowell

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by bpmod » Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:49 am

totebags wrote:
Robert K S wrote:Some disclaimers. Tax is not my field of practice. I took the class on wealth transfer tax in law school as one of five semester-long tax courses I took. I provide this information not so that anyone relies upon it as tax advice (IANYL) but rather as a contribution to the general discussion.

Section 61(a) of the U.S. federal tax code includes in gross income "all income from whatever source derived" (including, although not expressly listed, game show winnings). Section 102 states that gratuitous receipts (gifts, bequests, and inheritances) are generally excludable from gross income. Section 262(a) is interpreted as implying with the non-deductibility of gifts (as a subset of personal and familial expenses). Together, these provisions set up one layer of taxation: gifts are taxed as income to the donor but not to the recipient.
Tax is my field of practice. :-) I am not planning on getting into this conversation without understanding more about the contract between the contestant and the show. But I need to course-correct here. Game show winnings are not gifts, but prizes or awards. Section 74(a): "[...] gross income includes amounts received as prizes and awards."
This discussion is on the assumption that there were no contract (specific to the donation of the winnings) between the show and Cindy. My understanding of Opus' argument (and, full disclosure, one I agree with) is that, should the estate decline the winnings, they would become a gift from Jeopardy! to a charity, should TPTB elect to donate them directly.

This is what we are trying to ascertain the legality of. Kenny's opinion was that that cannot happen. But, thus far, nobody has cited a specific code section that covers it.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by boson » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:36 am

Can we please shelve the tax discussion? I think it is needlessly pedantic and trivial to focus on conflicting guesses of the tax implications game show winnings and charitable donations.

Let's focus on the amazing and heartbreaking performance that Cindy has done over 5+ games. If you want to focus on money, think of the good that this large donation will do for cancer research.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by bengland » Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:06 pm

boson wrote:Can we please shelve the tax discussion? I think it is needlessly pedantic and trivial to focus on conflicting guesses of the tax implications game show winnings and charitable donations.

Let's focus on the amazing and heartbreaking performance that Cindy has done over 5+ games. If you want to focus on money, think of the good that this large donation will do for cancer research.
Hear, hear!

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by OntarioQuizzer » Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:22 pm

heelsrule1988 wrote:
CailinGaoilge wrote:Back on topic: I notice that Cindy doesn't appear in the J! website's Tournament of Champions tracker, though by rights she should have been there after her fourth win. Even though we know she can't take part, it would have been nice to acknowledge her achievement in qualifying.
I hear you, but I think a lot of people wouldn't have viewed it in a positive light. Probably the better move to not put her on there.
It would not surprise me if the technical limitations of the show's website ToC Tracker prevents a 16th row from appearing on it. Because it would thus lead to confusion, I can certainly see why they have chosen not to do so.

Those technical limitations do not exist for Mr Carberry or myself; thus, we have included Cindy on our requisite trackers, as we can properly explain her inclusion to our respective readers.
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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by totebags » Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:32 pm

bengland wrote:
boson wrote:Can we please shelve the tax discussion? I think it is needlessly pedantic and trivial to focus on conflicting guesses of the tax implications game show winnings and charitable donations.

Let's focus on the amazing and heartbreaking performance that Cindy has done over 5+ games. If you want to focus on money, think of the good that this large donation will do for cancer research.
Hear, hear!
I'm happy to shelve the tax discussion, but being pedantic is in the nature of Jeopardy fans. :lol:

But agreed, it's stealing the focus away from Cindy and her amazing run.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by brick » Tue Dec 20, 2016 7:46 pm

Thank you for the links Opus. I've missed a couple due to family commitments.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by Blue Lion » Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:01 pm

boson wrote:Let's focus on the amazing and heartbreaking performance that Cindy has done over 5+ games. If you want to focus on money, think of the good that this large donation will do for cancer research.
Not to mention other people who, inspired by her story, will donate to cancer charities. Her performance will be the proverbial force multiplier.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by Linear Gnome » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:13 pm

Who's wowed us with her knowledge and humor?
Who's won our hearts with courage and grace?
Who's our new fav'rite Jeopardy! champion?
Everyone knows it's Cindy!

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by GEA2007 » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:29 pm

There really ought to be some type of permanent way that the game honors her. Be it the creation of a trophy for the TOC which bears her name, or simply naming the TOC after her altogether.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by opusthepenguin » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:32 pm

Finally uploading today's game. It should be available in 1 1/2 to 2 hours:

https://vimeo.com/196530962/

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by Robert K S » Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:16 am

Perhaps only law nerds won't think there's anything pedantic about discussing the tax code, but no one should think it is somehow inhuman to inquire into the most tax-efficient ways to give charitably. If the objective is to put money into the hands of those who can do the most good, why would you not want to first know how to best accomplish this goal?

In reply to totebags, I don't see how you could interpret my last post as suggesting prize winnings were gifts. The whole point of my post is that prize winnings are taxed as income even if one decides to give away all of those prize winnings (to charity or otherwise), but that the gift recipient will not owe taxes on the gifted winnings. Hence, exactly one layer of taxation. But that one layer can be significant, and should be avoided if possible. Given that Cindy had decided in advance that she would be gifting her winnings, it's not implausible that she and the show had some kind of arrangement set up beforehand to avoid this one layer.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by bengland » Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:00 pm

Fine. Time to start a new thread -- Tax Efficient Charitable Giving. As someone who returned here to see what people were saying about Cindy's inspiring run, I found the increasing domination of the thread by this tangential topic rather off-putting. A bit like heirs squabbling over their inheritance at a funeral.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by Kenny » Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:23 pm

bpmod wrote: This discussion is on the assumption that there were no contract (specific to the donation of the winnings) between the show and Cindy. My understanding of Opus' argument (and, full disclosure, one I agree with) is that, should the estate decline the winnings, they would become a gift from Jeopardy! to a charity, should TPTB elect to donate them directly.

This is what we are trying to ascertain the legality of. Kenny's opinion was that that cannot happen. But, thus far, nobody has cited a specific code section that covers it.

Brian
That's not really my opinion, but I can understand how you got that impression. My original concern was that Cindy had stated she wanted to donate all her winnings to cancer research, but if such a wish is not set out in her will, there is no way an executor of her estate can change it to reflect those wishes unless she was still alive. Verbal statements by the deceased prior to death do not "trump" a written will.

Assuming the winnings were paid to her estate after the show aired (per a nondisclosure agreement) the executor has a fiduciary duty to accept those winnings and distribute them as set out in her will, after paying off creditors. If, before Cindy appeared on the show, she already had an agreement with Merv Griffin Enterprises that all her winnings would go to TPTB, then yes, her will would be moot. The funds would be paid directly from Jeopardy to the beneficiary.

An executor cannot "decline the winnings" based on prior verbal statements by Cindy, no matter how well-intentioned.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by seaborgium » Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:29 pm

Kenny wrote: Assuming
What this discussion comes down to.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by kerryoakie » Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:40 pm

As the one who started the tax conversation... my apologies. It started out as a harmless curiosity and has snowballed from there. I think the speculation from people familiar with the subject is a sufficient answer to my initial question about the taxes involved. I'm cool with putting the conversation to bed in this thread.

I wish I had something additional to offer on the subject of Cindy's amazing performance, but this thread covers it all (and then some). I have no more words to express how her story has touched and inspired me.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by opusthepenguin » Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:41 pm

Kenny wrote:Assuming the winnings were paid to her estate after the show aired (per a nondisclosure agreement) the executor has a fiduciary duty to accept those winnings and distribute them as set out in her will, after paying off creditors. If, before Cindy appeared on the show, she already had an agreement with Merv Griffin Enterprises that all her winnings would go to TPTB, then yes, her will would be moot. The funds would be paid directly from Jeopardy to the beneficiary.

An executor cannot "decline the winnings" based on prior verbal statements by Cindy, no matter how well-intentioned.
Got it. That makes sense. Thanks for taking the time to elaborate.

To those who were unhappy with this line of discussion, I do apologize. I see your point, but I respectfully take up the contrary position. Cindy was clearly omnivorous in her pursuit of knowledge. She was curious about everything. She wanted to know what and how and why. At least I assume so. If there's another way to become as good a champ as she is, I sure don't know it. Please accept our curiosity about these nuts and bolts as an honor to that legacy.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by Cat Hammarskjold » Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:14 pm

Do you think that TPTB should donate an additional $5,000 for the TOC, or $30,267, the average payout of the 15 players?
I identify as a Jeopardy! fan, and use who/what pronouns.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by opusthepenguin » Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:44 pm

Cat Hammarskjold wrote:Do you think that TPTB should donate an additional $5,000 for the TOC, or $30,267, the average payout of the 15 players?
I'd be happy to see them donate any amount, but I don't think they have any moral obligation to do so. It's not like they can donate the money they somehow saved because Cindy didn't compete. So any money they donate will be above what they had planned for. I suppose, if the next TOC costs less than average in prize money, they could donate the "extra." That would be nice but, again, I don't see them as under any obligation.

I will say this. They're making money off Cindy. Her story has spread and I have to think they've gained some viewers, at least temporarily. Donating to Cancer Research Institute would be a mensch-y way to say thank you.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by GoodStrategy » Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:58 pm

opusthepenguin wrote:
Cat Hammarskjold wrote:Do you think that TPTB should donate an additional $5,000 for the TOC, or $30,267, the average payout of the 15 players?
I'd be happy to see them donate any amount, but I don't think they have any moral obligation to do so. It's not like they can donate the money they somehow saved because Cindy didn't compete. So any money they donate will be above what they had planned for. I suppose, if the next TOC costs less than average in prize money, they could donate the "extra." That would be nice but, again, I don't see them as under any obligation.

I will say this. They're making money off Cindy. Her story has spread and I have to think they've gained some viewers, at least temporarily. Donating to Cancer Research Institute would be a mensch-y way to say thank you.
I think you may be right - since the ToC (unless the format is changed altogether) will always have 15 players, and given the prize structure the amount paid out in total for prizes is fixed* (unless the minimum guarantees are exceeded in the finals, which is unlikely for a modern ToC given how high they are).

*$490,000 to be exact, the sum of:
$250,000 (winner)
$100,000 (1st runner-up)
$50,000 (2nd runner-up)
$60,000 ($10,000 * 6 eliminated semifinalists)
$30,000 ($5,000 * 6 eliminated quarterfinalists)
Last edited by GoodStrategy on Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Cindy Stowell

Post by BADuBois » Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:58 pm

Cross-posted from another thread...
SpoilerShow
The last time I got teary-eyed from "Jeopardy!" was four years ago, when I was defeated during my second appearance.

Until tonight.

What a woman, what a game, what courage...

I loved Alex's classy tribute at the end, but I was hoping that they would flash the address for the charity that Cindy's winnings are going to... and I was also hoping that Sony was going to match the donation.

So there you go.
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http://tinyurl.com/btax4xp

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