TaxProf Blog – Bryan Camp: Lesson from the Tax Court: The Employer/Employee Gift Rule (November, 21, 2022)

Bryan Camp has published an article on the TaxProf Blog, titled “Lesson from the Tax Court: The Employer/Employee Gift Rule” which discusses the exclusion of income for gifts in tax law. The article begins as follows:

Relationships can be messy.  That is true whether they are work relationships or romantic relationships.  But it is especially true for romantic relationships with co-workers.  Throw in a power disparity (in either direction) and the relationship becomes even trickier.  That is why I suspect most readers subscribe to the standard advice to avoid romantic relationships with co-workers—even if they honor that advice in the breach.  After all, the standard advice is often easier said than done. Humans are not little neat boxes where you can separate relationships into “work” and “personal.”  It’s messy.

That messiness invades tax law.  The Supreme Court has said as much in how it tells us to apply the §102(a) exclusion from income for gifts.  Congress has tried to lessen the §102(a) mess with a bright line rule in §102(c) that prohibits the exclusion when a gift is from employer to employee.  Call that the employer/employee gift rule.  In Jennifer Joy Fields and Walter T. Fields v. Commissioner, T.C. Sum. Op. 2022-22 (Nov. 10, 2022) (Judge Panuthos), we see the employer/employee gift rule applied to a CEO’s decision to help an employee buy a home with company money.  Despite their personal relationship, the employer/employee relationship meant there was no exclusion.

Today’s lesson seems especially timely in light of the approaching holiday season with all its messy relationship and gift-giving complexities.  Details below the fold. 

Click here to see the full article: “Lesson from the Tax Court: The Employer/Employee Gift Rule”

Posted by Marin Larkin, Associate Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal.

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