Benefits of giving gifts to employees
You can reap many benefits through gift-giving whether you do so on a personal level or a professional one. Often, giving presents to your employees is a mutually beneficial scenario. Some of the benefits include increases in the following:
- Motivation: Giving gifts can motivate your employees to work harder for the company.
- Productivity: Some employees can become more productive after receiving a gift.
- Morale: Many employees, and perhaps the company overall, get a boost in morale from getting a present.
- Value: Gifts show you’re thinking of your employees, which causes them to feel valued.
- Generosity: You as a manager get the benefit of feeling generous.
Reasons for giving gifts
Here are some of the more popular occasions where employers give their employees gifts:
- Work-related achievements
- Incentive awards
- Work anniversaries
Examples of gifts
From tangible items to events to cash, here are some of the most common types of presents employers give to their employees:
- Tickets to events
- Meals or other organized social gatherings
- Cash bonuses
- Gift cards
- Small trinkets
How to provide employee gifts as tax deductions
Employers can give anything they’d like to their employees as a gift, but it’s important to understand the tax implications. Consider these steps when determining what tax-free (for the employee) gifts you might provide:
1. Consider the value
The value of the gift can have an impact on how it’s taxed. Generally, any cash gift, whether it’s an annual bonus or a gift card to a restaurant, is considered a form of income by the IRS and the employee may need to account for it when they file their taxes.
Tangible items of a low cash value often fall under a tax stipulation called “de minimis fringes.” This benefit provides that employers can give gifts to their employees at no tax consequence to the employee and as a fully deductible tax item for the employer. According to the IRS, to qualify as a de minimis fringes gift, the employer must offer the gift infrequently and it must have an extremely low fair market value, or FMV.
2. Think about the item
Cash or cash-equivalent gifts are typically subject to income taxation by your employee. If you want to limit tax implications on your employees, you may want to opt for a tangible gift like a book or flowers rather than money or a gift card. Examples of de minimis fringes gifts might include:
- Low cash-value tangible holiday or birthday gifts
- Physical gifts related to outstanding work performance
- Infrequent gatherings or events for employees
3. Determine the reason
One potential situation in which employers can give their employees cash or cash equivalent gifts with no tax implications to the employee is for awards. Employee achievement, service and safety awards are typically not taxable up to a certain amount. The award must meet a series of stipulations as provided by the IRS, but generally, if the award is less than $400, you as the employer can deduct the expense from your taxes and the employee doesn’t have to list the award as income on their taxes.
4. Consult your accountant
If you’re unsure about the tax implications of a potential gift for your employee or employees, consult your accountant or tax attorney for guidance.