Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Gift Advice for Employers and Employees

Last week the Roni Deutch Tax Center – Tax Help Blog posted a season entry with holiday gift advice for employers and employees. Since there is so much confusion over presents and holiday bonuses from employers I wanted to make sure and share this informative article with my readers. You can find a snippet of the entry below, or checkout the full text at the Roni Deutch Tax Center – Tax Help Blog.

Seasonal Presents for Employees

As the holiday season swings into full force, it has become very common for employers to give out presents to their employees. For the most part, employees will not have to worry about claiming the value of these gifts on their tax returns unless it is a cash bonus. Additionally, employers can write off these expenses if they meet certain restrictions.

The Intent of Giving

In the case of Duberstein v. United States, the Supreme Court determined that the common law understanding of the term "gift," is different than the business tax related definition. The court found that some gifts given by employers were often intended to reward past performances or serve as incentives for future performance. In order to be excluded from payroll taxes a gift given by an employer must be made generously with "respect, admiration, charity or like impulses."

De Minimis Fringe Benefits

According to the Internal Revenue Code Section 132(e)(1), a de minimis fringe benefit is "any property or service the value of which is so small as to make accounting for it unreasonable or administratively impracticable after taking into account the frequency with which similar fringes are provided by the employer to the employer's employees." In plain English, a de minimis benefit is a gift given by an employer that is not subject to payroll taxes and is a deductible business expense.

Turkey, Ham, or Gift Basket Rule

You may have heard of the turkey, ham, or gift basket rule when it comes to taxes on employer provided presents. Essentially, non-cash holiday gifts of property given to an employee will not need to be considered part of an employees wages and will therefore not be subject to payroll taxes. The Federal tax code even allow for items such as flowers, books, gift baskets, etc. to be given to employees. The IRS asserts however, that these gifts must be of a "low fair market value," but does not provide any clear rules on what that monetary limit is.

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