26 CFR 1.274-3 - Disallowance of deduction for gifts.
(a)In general. No deduction shall be allowed under section 162 or 212 for any expense for a gift made directly or indirectly by a taxpayer to any individual to the extent that such expense, when added to prior expenses of the taxpayer for gifts made to such individual during the taxpayer's taxable year, exceeds $25.
(b)Gift defined -
(1)In general. Except as provided in subparagraph (2) of this paragraph the term gift, for purposes of this section, means any item excludable from the gross income of the recipient under section 102 which is not excludable from his gross income under any other provision of chapter 1 of the Code. Thus, a payment by an employer to a deceased employee's widow is not a gift, for purposes of this section, to the extent the payment constitutes an employee's death benefit excludable by the recipient under section 101(b). Similarly, a scholarship which is excludable from a recipient's gross income under section 117, and a prize or award which is excludable from a recipient's gross income under section 74(b), are not subject to the provisions of this section.
(2)Items not treated as gifts. The term gift, for purposes of this section, does not include the following:
(i) An item having a cost to the taxpayer not in excess of $4.00 on which the name of the taxpayer is clearly and permanently imprinted and which is one of a number of identical items distributed generally by such a taxpayer.
(ii) A sign, display rack, or other promotional material to be used on the business premises of the recipient, or
(iii) In the case of a taxable year of a taxpayer ending on or after August 13, 1981, an item of tangible personal property which is awarded before January 1, 1987, to an employee of the taxpayer by reason of the employee's length of service (including an award upon retirement), productivity, or safety achievement, but only to the extent that -
(iv) In the case of a taxable year of a taxpayer ending before August 13, 1981, an item of tangible personal property having a cost to the taxpayer not in excess of $100 which is awarded to an employee of the taxpayer by reason of the employee's length of service (including an award upon retirement) or safety achievement.
(c)Expense for a gift. For purposes of this section, the term expense for a gift means the cost of the gift to the taxpayer, other than incidental costs such as for customary engraving on jewelry, or for packaging, insurance, and mailing or other delivery. A related cost will be considered “incidental” only if it does not add substantial value to the gift. Although the cost of customary gift wrapping will be considered an incidental cost, the purchase of an ornamental basket for packaging fruit will not be considered an incidental cost of packaging if the basket has a value which is substantial in relation to the value of the fruit.
(d)Qualified plan award -
(1)In general. Except as provided in subparagraph (2) of this paragraph the term qualified plan award, for purposes of this section, means an item of tangible personal property that is awarded to an employee by reason of the employee's length of service (including retirement), productivity, or safety achievement, and that is awarded pursuant to a permanent, written award plan or program of the taxpayer that does not discriminate as to eligibility or benefits in favor of employees who are officers, shareholders, or highly compensated employees. The “permanency” of an award plan shall be determined from all the facts and circumstances of the particular case, including the taxpayer's ability to continue to make the awards as required by the award plan. Although the taxpayer may reserve the right to change or to terminate an award plan, the actual termination of the award plan for any reason other than business necessity within a few years after it has taken effect may be evidence that the award plan from its inception was not a “permanent” award plan. Whether or not an award plan is discriminatory shall be determined from all the facts and circumstances of the particular case. An award plan may fail to qualify because it is discriminatory in its actual operation even though the written provisions of the award plan are not discriminatory.
(2)Items not treated as qualified plan awards. The term qualified plan award, for purposes of this section, does not include an item qualifying under paragraph (d)(1) of this section to the extent that the cost of the item exceeds $1,600. In addition, that term does not include any items qualifying under paragraph (d)(1) of this section if the average cost of all items (whether or not tangible personal property) awarded during the taxable year by the taxpayer under any plan described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section exceeds $400. The average cost of those items shall be computed by dividing (i) the sum of the costs for those items (including amounts in excess of the $1,600 limitation) by (ii) the total number of those items.
(e)Gifts made indirectly to an individual -
(1)Gift to spouse or member of family. If a taxpayer makes a gift to the wife of a man who has a business connection with the taxpayer, the gift generally will be considered as made indirectly to the husband. However, if the wife has a bona fide business connection with the taxpayer independently of her relationship to her husband, a gift to her generally will not be considered as made indirectly to her husband unless the gift is intended for his eventual use or benefit. Thus, if a taxpayer makes a gift to a wife who is engaged with her husband in the active conduct of a partnership business, the gift to the wife will not be considered an indirect gift to her husband unless it is intended for his eventual use or benefit. The same rules apply to gifts to any other member of the family of an individual who has a business connection with the taxpayer.
(2)Gift to corporation or other business entity. If a taxpayer makes a gift to a corporation or other business entity intended for the eventual personal use or benefit of an individual who is an employee, stockholder, or other owner of the corporation or business entity, the gift generally will be considered as made indirectly to such individual. Thus, if a taxpayer provides theater tickets to a closely held corporation for eventual use by any one of the stockholders of the corporation, and if such tickets are gifts, the gifts will be considered as made indirectly to the individual who eventually uses such ticket. On the other hand, a gift to a business organization of property to be used in connection with the business of the organization (for example, a technical manual) will not be considered as a gift to an individual, even though, in practice, the book will be used principally by a readily identifiable individual employee. A gift for the eventual personal use or benefit of some undesignated member of a large group of individuals generally will not be considered as made indirectly to the individual who eventually uses, or benefits from, such gifts unless, under the circumstances of the case, it is reasonably practicable for the taxpayer to ascertain the ultimate recipient of the gift. Thus, if a taxpayer provides several baseball tickets to a corporation for the eventual use by any one of a large number of employees or customers of the corporation, and if such tickets are gifts, the gifts generally will not be treated as made indirectly to the individuals who use such tickets.
(f)Special rules -
(1)Partnership. In the case of a gift by a partnership, the $25 annual limitation contained in paragraph (a) of this section shall apply to the partnership as well as to each member of the partnership. Thus, in the case of a gift made by a partner with respect to the business of the partnership, the $25 limitation will be applied at the partnership level as well as at the level of the individual partner. Consequently, deductions for gifts made with respect to partnership business will not exceed $25 annually for each recipient, regardless of the number of partners.
(2)Husband and wife. For purposes of applying the $25 annual limitation contained in paragraph (a) of this section, a husband and wife shall be treated as one taxpayer. Thus, in the case of gifts to an individual by a husband and wife, the spouses will be treated as one donor; and they are limited to a deduction of $25 annually for each recipient. This rule applies regardless of whether the husband and wife file a joint return or whether the husband and wife make separate gifts to an individual with respect to separate businesses. Since the term taxpayer in paragraph (a) of this section refers only to the donor of a gift, this special rule does not apply to treat a husband and wife as one individual where each is a recipient of a gift. See paragraph (e)(1) of this section.