IRS Wants a Bite of Out of Silicon Valley’s Free Meal Perks

By the Numbers: 30%

Massages, dance classes, bikes, buses, nap pods, parties and a host of high-profile tech figures milling about campus. Perks are a Silicon Valley staple, designed to lure top talent and keep them fat and happy enough to work harder for longer. Perhaps no fringe benefit is more coveted than the gourmet meals served up gratis in corporate campuses like Facebook and Google, where employees reportedly jaw on $1 million worth of chicken a month. But those comped meals could end up costing companies even more now that the Internal Revenue Service says it wants a 30 percent bite out of them. The push to tax catered company meals comes from on high, a national IRS directive based on the argument that complimentary eats are a taxable fringe benefit similar to driving a company car for personal use. Of course, Big Tech is pushing back, warning that it will take the matter to court. Free meal-dealing companies might argue that the food is a “time-saving” measure, that by feeding their workers they can minimize downtime and get folks to return to their desks faster than if they left their sprawling suburban campuses.

8 Comments

  1. Don’t forget about the free child care, the free bus rides, company cell phones/computers… All the things 99% of the trough-feeding public sector union workers don’t get.

    • Don’t forget about the free child care, the free bus rides, company cell phones/computers… All the things 99% of the trough-feeding public sector union workers don’t get.

      They get a nice retirement, they get good job security, they get not *just* a job, but a career doing that job in nearly any metro entity. Being one of the lucky (or elite) few to get their feet in the door must be nice.

      • Public workers may get a retirement, but they also don’t get Social Security at all. The retirement is it. There is also no job security anymore as budget cuts eliminated many positions. the only job security is for union members of the public industry, and private employes can unionize if they want to.

  2. > Free meal-dealing companies might argue that the food is a “time-saving” measure, that by feeding their workers they can minimize downtime and get folks to return to their desks faster than if they left their sprawling suburban campuses.

    They “”might argue” this because it’s true.

    The tribalist foragers of the Democrat party who think that everything that anyone else has is theirs for the taking (if they can just organize a big enough war party) don’t realize that feeding $200,000 employees at their work bench instead of inviting them to take two hour three martini lunches on the town adds up to big benefits for employers.

    That’s why Google does it.

    Google smart.

    Government dumb.

    It would actually decrease government tax revenues to eliminate this perk.

    Just check out the “revenue per employee” for companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.

  3. Running out of ideas, aren’t we?

    This IRS victorian and its rotting Tax Code foundation are obviously falling apart and desperately need a remodel, preferably from ground up.

  4. Did the IRS just discover this decades old practice? Not likely. So the question becomes, “Why now?” The dollar amounts involved aren’t much, and the company bigwigs are valuable campaign contributors, so what could justify the risk of political fallout from such a move?

    I suspect this is just the latest salvo in the Obama administration’s quest to foment class warfare, to reinforce the class identify of the “have-nots” by making an issue over the good fortune of the “haves.” After all, without literally making a federal case out a perk, how will the “have-nots” know they have a new reason to feel embittered?

    And don’t forget, Obama has already demonstrated that he sees the IRS as a political tool.

    Maybe a compromise can be worked out? Let the “haves” continue to enjoy the free perks they receive for their talent, effort, and dedication, but provide the “have-nots” an Obama lunch card to go with the Obama phones they receive for providing the shiftless masses necessary for this administration to justify another socialist program.

    Or, better yet, how about we get rid of the IRS?

  5. I’ve worked private industry jobs where perks were taxed. There was company housing that we got a little (a very little) below market rate, and we were taxed on that difference. Free food is a HUGE money savings for employees, so it seems to me that they should be taxed on it. It works out to probably at least $100 per week or $5200 per year of “income.” they could keep employees from leaving campus by having the cafeteria and charging them the cost of the food. They don’t have to make a profit from the food, so employees will still save money compared to going elsewhere.

  6. they don’t just get retirement packages, they often get to double dib and have another job right after retirement. Let us not forget Steve Lodge who ran for Santa Clara Police Commissioner, and then a month after the election retired and like magic got a job with the 49ers. And I hear Jamie Matthews is about to retire from his Government job, nice to have the ability to retire at 50 and still keep getting an income, travel on the cities dime and eat food that developers, 49ers and others munch on but tell us in a city council meeting when discussing free 49er tickets for city employees, council, and family members that city employees can’t even accept a cup of coffee from someone. Does this mean when Jamie Matthews and Pat Kolstad go to these events they can’t eat there? I am sure that is not what he meant but in any case, living off the fat of the land really has to stop. Though getting rid of the IRS sounds like a good idea what would we have instead?

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