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Taxing Corporate Gifts

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feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If your company is thinking of giving gift certificates this year instead of another year of junky promotional items with the company’s logo or a holiday turkey as a holiday gift, scrooge and the IRS have something to tell you.

Employers may have gotten the message: a t-shirt with the company’s logo or a turkey that the HR department bought a week ago is not really appreciated. So many companies that used to give out items like turkeys or t-shirts to their employees have decided just to give supermarket or other gift cards instead.

Now you certainly don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. But financially, a gift turkey would be better than a gift certificate. Why? Because what the IRS calls a “deminimis” gift – an item like a holiday turkey – does not have to be reported on your taxes. But if your employer gives you cash or a gift certificate no matter how small, you have to include the value of that gift on your tax return as extra salary.

So, while it seems like something of a throwback for a company to actually pass out the turkeys, at least you’ll be eating on the company’s money, rather than having the IRS take a bite out of yours.

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