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Incredible. Almost as bad as the $100 gift certificate I won as a door prize at a company dinner , only to find they added it to my W-2 wages that year. The same company that promised pay for performance, but then gave everyone an across the board 4% raise.

My free advice, worth every penny, and subject to correction by people who have real experience in this field:

If the prize was awarded in 1997, you should have a 1099 by now, since it had to be sent by 1/31/98. So maybe it won't show up. What the IRS doesn't know won't hurt you.

If you donate it, you should be able to write off the alleged market value. Be sure to get a receipt that meets the IRS standards for big ticket items. The charity should be familiar with what's required, if not draft it your self and have them put it on their letterhead and have an officer sign it. And keep a copy of the 1099 that stated the value of the original prize. Misplace the info from the jeweler, which was more likely what he'd give you for it, not what he'd sell it for.

And do the next 'winner' a favor. Donate it to a charity that's doing an auction, not a raffle.

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