The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) includes tax breaks for both individuals and businesses. But some breaks were limited or eliminated. Notably, the rules for some employer-provided fringe benefits are less taxpayer friendly than before.
For example, tax-favored treatment for certain transportation fringe benefits has been cut by the TCJA. Employers can no longer deduct the cost of providing commuting transportation to an employee (such as hiring a car service), unless the transportation is necessary for the employee’s safety. Employers also can’t deduct qualified employee transportation fringe benefits, such as parking allowances, mass transit passes and van pooling. These benefits are still tax-free to recipient employees. But the tax-free amount can’t exceed a maximum monthly dollar limit, adjusted for inflation, which is $265 for 2019.
The TCJA also temporarily eliminates tax-free employer reimbursements for job-related moving expenses (except for certain military personnel). Any employer reimbursements must be reported as taxable income on a nonmilitary employee’s W-2. This provision is effective for 2018 through 2025.
In addition, under the TCJA, employers can deduct only 50% of the cost of meals provided via an on-premises cafeteria or otherwise on the employer’s premises for the convenience of the employer. (Under the pre-TCJA rules, these meals were 100% deductible by the employers and tax-free to the recipient employee.)
After 2025, the cost of meals provided through an on-premises cafeteria or otherwise on the employer’s premises won’t be deductible at all. Nevertheless, the meals will continue to be tax-free to employees as a de minimis benefit.
Other benefits that remain taxable to employees and nondeductible by employers under current law include:
- Excessive mileage reimbursements,
- Excessive education benefits,
- Work clothing suitable for regular wear,
- Cash awards and prizes, and
- Personal use of a company vehicles.
For more information about the tax rules for fringe benefits, contact your tax adviser.