Employee Tax-Free Income

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While most income received from your employer quickly ends up on a W-2 tax form at the end of the year, here are some common employee benefits that often avoid the impact of Federal taxes.

Health Benefits. While now reported on W-2’s, employer-provided health insurance premiums are currently not required to be reported as additional income by the employee. This includes premiums paid for the employee and qualified family members. In addition, the employee portion of premiums can be paid in “pre-tax” dollars.

Credit Card Airline “miles”. Credit card benefits like miles are not generally deemed as taxable income. So those miles earned on corporate credit cards that go to you as an individual are not likely to increase your tax bill.

Employee tuition reimbursement. Up to $5,250 of tuition reimbursed to you by your employer is not deemed to be additional taxable income.

Commuting expenses. You can generally exclude the value of transportation benefits you receive up to the following limits.

  • $270 per month for combined commuter highway vehicle transportation and transit passes.
  • $270 per month for qualified parking.
  • For a calendar year, $20 multiplied by the number of months for qualified bicycle commuting expense reimbursement.

Company Health Savings Account (HSA) Contributions. Up to specified dollar limits, cash contributions to the HSA of a qualified individual (determined monthly) are exempt from federal income tax withholding, social security tax, Medicare tax, and FUTA tax.

Group Term Life Insurance. You can generally exclude the cost of up to $50,000 of group-term life insurance from your wages.

Small gifts. The IRS calls these “de minimis” benefits. Small-valued benefits are not included in income and could include things like the use of the company copy machine, occasional meals, small gifts, and tickets to a sporting event.

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