There’s no such thing as a free lunch (subscription)

Employees at large companies have at various times received nice perks as part of their jobs. 401(k) matches are pretty standard fare these days. Bonuses on Wall Street and at other firms during bull markets are legendary. But sometimes the everyday work incentives are a little more generous.

The perks showered upon tech company employees in Silicon Valley are well documented: kitchens stocked with gourmet made-to-order meals; beer on-tap; colorful bikes to peddle around campus; break rooms with video game consoles, pool tables and other entertainment; fitness facilities and training classes; weekly concerts and team-building activities. Companies promote this culture as a “work hard, play hard” lifestyle that is good for the bottom-line because it creates happy employees who are diligent and stick around.

If you work for such a company, life is good – until the tax man shows up. What used to be a free incentive to employees that was deducted by the company may soon show up as taxable income on a W-2. The new worry about possible action by the Internal Revenue Service, and thus California action, comes from a recently released list of regulatory items the Treasury Department intends to pursue (referred to as the Priority Guidance Plan). The agenda item that has raised interest about the IRS plans simply states that the Treasury Department and IRS intend to provide “guidance under Sections 119 and 132 regarding employer-provided meals.”

Read more here (subscription required).