December 13, 2012

"Gift Tax" Exclusion for Church Employee Gifts?

Question:

A church or Christian ministry can give up to $13,000 to each employee as a non-taxable gift each year. Right?

Answer:

The $13,000 exclusion relates to inheritance gifts to beneficiaries prior to an individual's death, not to employer gifts to employees prior to the year end. The gift tax exclusion is $13,000 per year. Gifts above this amount will be viewed as potentially reducing a decedent’s taxable estate and denying estate tax receipts to the government.

Most gifts to employees by their employers are taxable to the employee and deductible by the employer. IRS Publication 535 communicates that food or merchandise gifts of “nominal value” are not taxable to the employee. The link provided below especially highlights this context. 

Publication 535 Business Expenses 

Publication 15 is also helpful as it deals entirely with Fringe Benefits. Especially view, De Minimis (Minimal) Benefits. 

Publication 15-B Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits 

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