The government that has both hands shoved into your pockets at every stage of your life? The taxation of non-monetary prizes is one of the ways that the government sucks the joy out of life. It'd be one thing if he had the option to get the cash value or sell the trip, but the kid is right: $3,500 may be cheap for a weeklong heli-skiing trip but it's a lot of money for a single vacation, especially for someone just starting out. Some people don't spend that for an entire year of vacations. If there's a semi-legit way to cut down on that cost (e.g. giving them the lowest possible cost), don't see what he's doing wrong. In fact, I bet you, like anyone, give the least amount of money you can on your taxes each year.
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