Are Giveaways Legal - and Could You Be in Trouble?

I have been reading a lot of articles recently about the legalities of "giveaways" in the blogosphere.   I must say, what I have been reading has given me pause.  In fact, I've decided (unless I read something else to the contrary) that I don't need to be in the business of giving ANYTHING away on my blog.

Here are just a couple of articles I've found recently:

I do not wish to offend bloggers who host giveaways.  Some of my favorite bloggers have giveaways frequently... I hope this post might make you think a little longer about this subject.   It certainly has given me pause.  

Most importantly:  Is your giveaway a giveaway or a sweepstakes?

If your giveaway winner will be chosen at random you are hosting a sweepstakes and thus you should comply with the laws regarding sweepstakes.

Read the full article for yourself to learn more.  

It seems especially that if you tie a giveaway (sweepstakes) entry to liking you on Facebook or following you on Google Friend Connect you might be breaking some rules (not to mention perhaps trying to boost your blog numbers).   How many times have you seen giveaways like this?   I've had them myself.  I haven't had one in a while, and I'm not going to have one any time soon.    

I realize that  many bloggers gain significant revenue from their blogs.   Obviously, that is not the case with my blog.  I do, however, get a lot of very nice things to use with my children in our homeschool endeavors.   Even now, though, I'm beginning to have tax questions about these "perks".   My father-in-law is a former IRS agent, and I know if you think you can just skate by without reporting your blog income/goods (I believe it's anything above $600 -- but I may be wrong), you are doing that skating on thin ice.  Also, giveaways valued at $600 or more must be reported to the IRS.   

I already pay self employment taxes on my piano studio income, and I'm going to have start factoring in my blog freebies as well.    I don't need the headache of worrying about giveaways, (they're really sweepstakes)too. 

I would hate to be the ONE PERSON who was caught.    Granted, I don't think the government is coming after homeschool mom bloggers, but YOU NEVER KNOW.  I took my kids out of school to be rid of government intervention.  It's ironic that here I am again -- beholden to the government even on my blog.   <<  That is a whole other blog post, though!  >>

What are your thoughts on this?   I'm just keeping it real here.  So many of us blog for fun and enjoy the perks, but I also think we bury our heads in the sand if we don't investigate the rules and treat our blogs as a business (if you gain any type of revenue, whether it be money or products).