BlogJul 06, 2023

Tax Considerations for Employee Gift Giving in the UK

A little guide to help you provide tax-free gifts to your employees.

Do you know that as a company, you can provide tax-free gifts to your employees?

It's a great benefit that allows you to thank your team and express your gratitude for their good work or recognize those who have exceeded expectations. Although there are some limitations to consider, it remains an excellent means of thanking your team for the work they've done.

Recognizing and appreciating employees through thoughtful presents is an important aspect of fostering a positive work environment. However, you need to be aware of the tax considerations associated with such gestures in the UK. Understanding the taxable nature of employee gifts and the accompanying tax implications is essential to avoid potential penalties and ensure compliance with reporting obligations. By adhering to tax regulations, employers can ensure that employee gifts are properly accounted for in payroll and avoid any tax or national insurance discrepancies. Likewise, employees can navigate the tax consequences of receiving such gifts and understand their reporting obligations.

In this article, we will give you an overview of the tax considerations for employee gift giving in the UK, for both employers and employees.

To make it easy for you, we have prepared a helpful guide that outlines key considerations when providing tax-free gifts to employees. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a smoother experience. Not only will your employees be delighted with the additional perks, but you'll also benefit from the ability to deduct the gift's cost from your business taxes. It's a mutually advantageous arrangement that promises a win-win outcome when rewarding your team properly.

Defining Taxable Employee Gifts

When it comes to employee gifts, it is important to differentiate between taxable and non-taxable gifts. Taxable employee gifts are those subject to tax and national insurance under certain circumstances. Cash gifts, such as cash bonuses or cash vouchers, are typically considered taxable, as they contribute directly to an employee's income. Non-cash gifts, like gift vouchers or non-cash vouchers, may also be subject to taxation, depending on their value and the context in which they are provided.

Taxable Employee Gifts: Employer's Perspective

From an employer's standpoint, understanding the tax implications of employee gifts is crucial. Employee gifts are generally categorized as taxable benefits in kind, which means they may be subject to income tax and national insurance contributions. Employers have the responsibility to properly report and account for these taxable benefits, ensuring compliance with reporting obligations and accurate tax treatment.

Taxable Employee Gifts: Employee's Perspective

For employees who receive taxable gifts from their employers, there are tax consequences to consider. The value of the gift is typically included in their taxable income, subject to income tax and national insurance contributions. It is important for employees to understand the tax implications of receiving such gifts, as they may need to report them in their self-assessment tax returns or through other appropriate means.

Tax free gifts

How to make sure the presents are tax-free? It must satisfy the following conditions:

  • the cost of providing the benefit does not exceed £50 per employee (or on average when gifts are made to multiple employees)

  • the benefit is not cash or a cash voucher

  • the employee is not entitled to the benefit as part of a contractual arrangement (including salary sacrifice)

  • the benefit is not provided in recognition of particular services performed by the employee as part of their employment duties

  • where the employer is a 'close' company and the benefit is provided to an individual who is a director, an office holder or a member of their household or their family, then the exemption is capped at a total cost of £300 in a tax year.

If any of these conditions are not fulfilled, the benefit will be subject to regular taxation, taking into account other exemptions or permissible deductions.

Other exemples: corporate gifts, gift boxes and gift cards to gift at the annual party or corporate team building gifts, staff christmas parties or any other annual events to spoil to both employees and clients. ps: with Merchery, you can create your own custom gift boxes to reward your employees. Festive season coming? consider our Christmas gift boxes, employee wellness gifts. Onboarding? Meet our welcome kit boxes,...

Exceptions and Exclusions

There are exceptions and exclusions to be aware of. Certain gift types, known as trivial benefits, may be exempt from taxation. It means that employers can provide their employees with a small gift with a low cost, such as a bottle of wine or small staff gifts without any tax charge as long as they fulfill the necessary conditions.

Reporting and Compliance

Both employers and employees have reporting obligations regarding taxable gifts. Accurate record-keeping and documentation are essential to support gift classifications and ensure compliance with reporting requirements. Employers must report the full value and total cost of taxable employee gifts, taking into account any associated tax and national insurance contributions. Employees, on the other hand, may need to report taxable gifts as part of their self-assessment or through other appropriate means.

Penalties and Consequences

Non-compliance with gift tax regulations can result in significant penalties and consequences for businesses and individuals. Failure to report taxable employee gifts or incorrectly reporting them may lead to audits, fines, or other legal implications.

In summary, understanding the tax considerations for employee gift giving in the UK is essential for both employers and employees. By differentiating between taxable and non-taxable gifts, adhering to reporting obligations, and seeking professional advice when needed, individuals can navigate the tax implications associated with employee gifts.


- Can I give my employees cash gifts?

Yes, cash gifts are permissible, provided they are voluntary, not in place of salary, and not part of a salary sacrifice arrangement. The total value of cash gifts to an employee should not exceed £300 within a tax year.

- Do gift cards count as income in the UK?

No, gift cards are not considered income in the UK. They are exempt from income tax and national insurance since they are not categorized as salary or wages, and they are not part of a salary sacrifice arrangement.

- Is VAT applicable to gift vouchers?

No, gift vouchers do not attract VAT in the UK. Furthermore, as an employer, you can reclaim any VAT paid when purchasing gift vouchers.

- Are Christmas vouchers taxable?

Christmas vouchers, like other gift vouchers, are only taxable if they are part of a salary sacrifice arrangement. Otherwise, they are not subject to income tax or national insurance.

Please note that understanding the tax implications of employee gifts is crucial. For specific queries regarding the taxability of particular gifts, it is advisable to consult a qualified tax advisor or chartered accountant.

- Can paying for a day out for employees be considered a trivial benefit?

A day out may be considered a trivial benefit if the cost remains below £50 per employee and is not part of their contractual obligations. However, if the cost surpasses £50 per employee, it may be subject to a taxable benefit charge.

- What are the tax implications of having a staff Christmas party?

if the event is accessible to all employees and the cost per person remains below £150, the party is eligible for tax exemption.

- What are the tax considerations when giving Christmas gifts to clients?

Non-promotional christmas presents to clients cannot be deducted from profits as they are considered entertainment expenses, which are not tax deductible. Such gifts may include items like alcohol, food hampers, tobacco, and similar items.

On the other hand, promotional gifts provided to clients are categorized as advertising expenses and can be tax deductible. To qualify, these gifts must prominently display personalized branding or company logos. Examples of promotional gifts include branded stationery (pens, diaries, etc.), calendars, mouse mats, mugs, and various other items.

Need inspiration? Discover our curation of durable products right here.

And if you want to know more about Merchery and our corporate gift programs, get to know us here.

More insights

View all articles
  • 20 personalized gift ideas for VIP clients: making your business relationships more meaningful

    Read the article
  • MERCHERY_giftideas_2023.jpg

    Top Client Gift Ideas for Stronger Relationships in 2023

    Read the article
  • MERCHERY_APRIL23_12115.jpg

    National Intern Day: Give the Perfect Gift to Show Your Gratitude

    Read the article
View all articles