Tax Preparation Help  
Publication 463 2008 Tax Year

3.   Gifts

Table of Contents

    If you give gifts in the course of your trade or business, you can deduct all or part of the cost. This chapter explains the limits and rules for deducting the costs of gifts.

    $25 limit.   You can deduct no more than $25 for business gifts you give directly or indirectly to each person during your tax year. A gift to a company that is intended for the eventual personal use or benefit of a particular person or a limited class of people will be considered an indirect gift to that particular person or to the individuals within that class of people who receive the gift.

      If you give a gift to a member of a customer's family, the gift is generally considered to be an indirect gift to the customer. This rule does not apply if you have a bona fide, independent business connection with that family member and the gift is not intended for the customer's eventual use.

      If you and your spouse both give gifts, both of you are treated as one taxpayer. It does not matter whether you have separate businesses, are separately employed, or whether each of you has an independent connection with the recipient. If a partnership gives gifts, the partnership and the partners are treated as one taxpayer.


    Bob Jones sells products to Local Company. He and his wife, Jan, gave Local Company three cheese packages to thank them for their business. They paid $80 for each package, or $240 total. Three of Local Company's executives took the packages home for their families' use. Bob and Jan have no independent business relationship with any of the executives' other family members. They can deduct a total of $75 ($25 limit × 3) for the cheese packages.

    Incidental costs.   Incidental costs, such as engraving on jewelry, or packaging, insuring, and mailing, are generally not included in determining the cost of a gift for purposes of the $25 limit.

      A cost is incidental only if it does not add substantial value to the gift. For example, the cost of gift wrapping is an incidental cost. However, the purchase of an ornamental basket for packaging fruit is not an incidental cost if the value of the basket is substantial compared to the value of the fruit.

    Exceptions.   The following items are not considered gifts for purposes of the $25 limit.
    1. An item that costs $4 or less and:

      1. Has your name clearly and permanently imprinted on the gift, and

      2. Is one of a number of identical items you widely distribute. Examples include pens, desk sets, and plastic bags and cases.

    2. Signs, display racks, or other promotional material to be used on the business premises of the recipient.

    Figure B. When Are Local Transportation Expenses Deductible?TAs for Figure B are: Reg 1.162-1(a); RR 55–109; RR 94–47
    Please click here for the text description of the image.

    Figure B. When Are Local Transportation Expenses Deductible?TAs for Figure B are: Reg 1.162-1(a); RR 55–109; RR 94–47

    Gift or entertainment.   Any item that might be considered either a gift or entertainment generally will be considered entertainment. However, if you give a customer packaged food or beverages that you intend the customer to use at a later date, treat it as a gift.

       If you give a customer tickets to a theater performance or sporting event and you do not go with the customer to the performance or event, you have a choice. You can treat the cost of the tickets as either a gift expense or an entertainment expense, whichever is to your advantage.

      You can change your treatment of the tickets at a later date by filing an amended return. Generally, an amended return must be filed within 3 years from the date the original return was filed or within 2 years from the time the tax was paid, whichever is later.

       If you go with the customer to the event, you must treat the cost of the tickets as an entertainment expense. You cannot choose, in this case, to treat the cost of the tickets as a gift expense.

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