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Title 26: Internal Revenue
§1.132-6T De minimis fringe—1985 through 1988 (temporary).
(a) In general. Gross income does not include the value of a de minimis fringe provided to an employee. The term “de minimis fringe” means any property or service the value of which is (after taking into account the frequency with which similar fringes are provided by the employer to the employer's employees) so small as to make accounting for it unreasonable or administratively impracticable.
(b) Frequency. Generally, the frequency with which similar fringes are provided by the employer to the employer's employees is determined by reference to the frequency with which the employer provides the fringe to each individual employee. For example, if an employer provides a free meal to one employee on a daily basis, but not to any other employee, the value of the meals is not de minimis with respect to that one employee even though with respect to the employer's entire workforce the meals are provided “infrequently.” However, where it would be administratively difficult to determine frequency with respect to individual employees, the frequency with which similar fringes are provided by the employer to the employer's employees is determined by reference to the frequency with which the employer provides the fringes to the employees and not the frequency with which individual employees receive them. In these cases, if an employer occasionally provides a fringe benefit of de minimis value to the employer's employees, the de minimis fringe exclusion may apply even though a particular employee receives the benefit frequently. For example, if an employer exercises sufficient control and imposes significant restrictions on the personal use of a company copying machine so that at least 85 percent of the use of the machine is for business purposes, any personal use the copying machine by particular employees is considered to be a de minimis fringe.
(c) Administrability. Unless excluded by a statutory provision other than section 132(a)(4), the value of any fringe benefit that would not be unreasonable or administratively impracticable to account for must be included in the employee's gross income. Thus, except as otherwise provided in this section, the provision of any cash fringe benefit (or any fringe benefit provided to an employee through the use of a charge or credit card) is not excludable as a de minimis fringe. For example, the provision of cash to an employee for personal entertainment is not excludable as a de minimis fringe.
(d) Special rules—(1) Transit passes. A transit pass provided to an employee at a discount not exceeding $15 per month may be excluded as a de minimis fringe. The exclusion provided in this paragraph (d) also applies to the provision of $15 in tokens or fare cards that enable an individual to travel on the transit system. The exclusion provided in this paragraph (d) does not apply to any provision of cash or other benefit to defray transit expenses incurred for personal travel.
(2) Occasional meal money or local transportation fare. Occasional meal money or local transportation fare provided to an employee because overtime work necessitates an extension of the employee's normal workday is excluded as a de minimis fringe.
(3) Use of special rules to establish a general rule. The special rules provided in this paragraph (d) may not be used to establish any general rule. For example, the fact that $180 ($15 per month for 12 months) worth of transit passes can be excluded in a year does not mean that any fringe benefit with a value equal to or less than $180 may be excluded as a de minimis fringe.
(4) Benefits exceeding value and frequency limitations. If the benefit provided to an employee is not de minimis because either the value or frequency exceeds a limit provided in this paragraph (d), no amount of the benefit is considered to be de minimis. For example, if an employer provides a $20 monthly transit pass, the entire $20 must be included in income, not just the excess value over $15.
(e) Nonapplicability of nondiscrimination rules. Except to the extent provided in §1.132-7T, the nondiscrimination rules of section 132(h)(1) and §1.132-8T do not apply. Thus, for example, a fringe benefit may be a de minimis fringe even if the benefit is provided exclusively to officers of the employer.
(f) Examples—(1) Benefits excludable from income. Examples of de minimis fringe benefits are occasional typing of personal letters by a company secretary; occasional personal use of an employer's copying machine, provided that the employer exercises sufficient control and imposes significant restrictions on the personal use of the machine so that at least 85 percent of the use of the machine is for business purposes; occasional cocktail parties or picnics for employees and their guests; traditional holiday gifts of property (not cash) with a low fair market value; occasional theatre or sporting event tickets; and coffee and doughnuts.
(2) Benefits not excludable as de minimis fringes. Examples of fringe benefits that are not excludable from income as de minimis fringes are: season tickets to sporting or theatrical events; the commuting use of an employer-provided automobile or other vehicle more than once a month; membership in a private country club or athletic facility, regardless of the frequency with which the employee uses the facility; and use of employer-owned or leased facilities (such as an apartment, hunting lodge, boat, etc.) for a weekend. Some amount of the value of these fringe benefits may be excluded under other statutory provisions, such as the exclusion for working condition fringes. See §1.132-5T.
[T.D. 8063, 50 FR 52308, Dec. 23, 1985, as amended by T.D. 8256, 54 FR 28600, July 6, 1989]