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The Benefit Of ‘De Minimis’ Gifts

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

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Nothing says “you are an appreciated employee” at the holidays quite like an ugly gym bag with the company’s logo.

A 2013 business survey conducted by Lands End Business Outfitters found that 73% of employers planned to give employees gifts! What good news.

But, the majority of those employers planned to give monogrammed apparel, totes, or food, while the majority of employees preferred to receive cash or gift cards. What bad news.

But the IRS has a reason for you to like it a little more. The IRS? What perplexing news.

Here’s the thing. If your employer gives you cash or a gift card for a specific monetary value, that money is taxable. But if your employer gives you an actual gift worth a small amount of money – or a gift certificate that is only exchangeable for a holiday turkey or ham for example, the IRS does not take a bite out of it. It doesn’t make you pay taxes on what is called a “de minimis” gift fringe benefit – a gift so small it’s not worth reporting.

So, you can keep the cash to pay for the gym membership in order to get to use the company’s monogrammed gym bag you’re likely to wind up with.