The IRS. There are few agencies more hated, corrupt, and degraded in the entire nation, and that’s saying a lot.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you are well aware of the fact that the IRS was caught consistently abusing its extraordinary power in order to selectively target groups with which leadership disagreed with politically.
We also know that the IRS, and its former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit, Lois Lerner, subsequently destroyed evidence of misconduct by claiming emails had been lost and are unrecoverable, in a ludicrous series of purported events.
I thought the following Tweet summarized my sentiments as well as anything else I have seen.
One thing the celebrity nude pictures story shows us is the only thing ever permanently deleted from the internet is Lois Lerner’s emails.
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) September 2, 2014
So with the scandal now behind the IRS, and nobody held accountable as usual, at least we can rest assured that the tax agency has finally gotten its priorities straight.
Clearly one of the biggest cancers plaguing society is that fact that some plebs out there still work for employers willing to provide them with a free lunch. I think we can all agree with the IRS that this sort of behavior is akin to domestic terrorism, and something must be done about it. You know, like the IRS getting its cut.
Companies all over the country often provide meals and other services to keep employees on the premises and happy. Earlier this year, Forbes counted down the 10 Most Popular Employee Perks of 2014 and found benefits that ran the gamut from game rooms to company gyms. Not surprisingly, the list also included free food including a “never-ending cereal bar” at Moz.com and a “24-7 on-tap keg” at apartmentrental.com.
Perks like these can be win-win for employers and employees. Employers, of course, win employee loyalty and keep employees at work. Employers can generally deduct the costs of providing perks to employees as business expenses while employees may be able to exclude the cost of those perks from income. Specifically, when it comes to meals, they may be excludable from income under section 119 of the Tax Code. The Regulations clarify at section 1-119 that:
The value of meals furnished to an employee by his employer shall be excluded from the employee’s gross income if two tests are met: (i) The meals are furnished on the business premises of the employer, and (ii) the meals are furnished for the convenience of the employer.
On August 26, 2014, the Department of Treasury released the 2014-2015 Priority Guidance Plan (downloads as a pdf) which raised the issue of employer-provided meals as one of 317 projects that are priorities for the upcoming year. The plan “represents projects we intend to work on actively during the plan year.”
Yes, a “priority.”
In other words: the IRS is rethinking looking the other way when it comes to free meals. While the plan did not focus on how IRS specifically plans to evaluate the issue – nor did it establish any timeline – it’s likely that the agency will shift resources to consider how and whether to force companies to include “free” meals as compensation for employees.