As a business owner holiday time is a time when you may want to give your employees a small gift, or a bonus, or just throw a party for everyone to celebrate the season. Here is a guide to what is taxable and what is not.
Nontaxable gifts include small items that you give to your employees as a goodwill gesture or to show your gratitude for their services. The small item could be a ham or turkey for the family or a bottle of wine. There are a lot of popular shows over the holidays and a ticket or two to a show would also not be taxable to your employee. The trick here is that the gifts must be of nominal value and given infrequently. These are known as de minimis gifts and they have the added advantage of being deductible by the business.
Taxable gifts are items like gift cards or gift certificates which have a set amount on the card. To give you an example, a gift certificate for a turkey would be taxable to the employee even though if you gave the employee the turkey itself it would be non-taxable. If a gift is taxable then it is subject to all of the normal payroll tax withholding and tax expenses.
If you throw a company party for the employees (and families) the cost of the party is not taxable to the employees and it is fully deductible by the business (not 50% deductible as other entertainment expenses are). The standard here is that the parties are infrequent and are given to promote employee goodwill, etc.
Jeremiah K. Murphy, CPA is an accounting firm providing tax services, audits and business consulting.