IRS Wants Tech Firms' Lunch Money


If you don't work at a Silicon Valley tech firm and are envious of the stories about their fancy, fully-decked-out work environments. Apparently the IRS is envious too, or at least envious of the money behind it and whether they should get a cut.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Internal Revenue Service is looking into the "free lunches" that companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and other Silicon Valley heavyweights provide to their employees, and whether those meals should be subject to taxation.

"It appears for a lot of these companies that they're not actually including (them) in their employees paychecks or W-2s and therefore the question is whether there's some skirting of the tax laws," Mark said this morning on the Markets Hub. Needless to say, this development won't be welcome in the Valley, where the sumptuous workplace cafeterias are an ingrained part of the culture.

The question is whether these meals are part of a "compensation" package, like a company car.

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  1. There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.


    1. It appears the IRS agrees with you.

      1. If the company gives it to an employee it counts as income. So long as the IRS is given a moral exception to steal a segment of all the employed earn, they’re right.

        Claire Wolfe points out, “America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.” How about burning them at the stake? No gun violence that way!

        1. But you’re not forced to eat it. We get free lunches once a week, but if it’s lasagna, I’m outta here. What happens then?

          1. Isn’t the real solution to go Ragnar Danneskj?ld on ’em?

          2. The IRS concludes you didn’t use your benefit.

            The government ruins all things. The rather sensible “feed the animals” policy of some companies is no doubt next.

            And hey, what about all those little catered snackaroonies that show up for some meetings?

            The shit will really hit the fan where contractors are receiving “benefits” of this kind. Does that now make them employees? Uh oh. Tax rules, regulations, collective bargaining, oh my!

            It will be too much of a hassle to continue with the benefits, so they’ll be out, and you’ll be working in your stainless steel cube and have to bring in bottled water if you want something to drink.

            1. Companies also provide their employees with water, toilet facilities, electricity, furniture, and shelter from the rain. All are “benefits” consumed on site, in direct support of the work. They are not compensation, which is a reward for work that can be used outside of the workplace.

              If I had a company car that I was allowed to take home and use on weekends, sure, that’s part of my compensation. It’s a reward for my work, not simply a tool used during my work. But if I only have use of a company car to drive between work locations during work hours, the car more in the class of office furniture: a tool for my job, not a reward for my efforts.

              It is also in Google’s interest that their employees talk with one another at meals, and that they not waste time preparing food or traveling off-campus for it. It’s also more secure when work-related conversations don’t happen off-campus.

  2. You bastards. I love my free breakfasts once a week, and free dinner if I work past 7:30.

    1. At one of my former companies, people would stay for the free dinner and then go home. It was meant for people working late.

  3. I worked for a software company that provided three meals a day with no wait ever. It is amazing how many man-hours were saved by that small expense.

    1. The only places I’ve seen catered food ready no-wait was on studio sets. I bet the Hollywood types will scream bloody murder if they start taxing that!

      1. The best food I have ever had in my life was on a movie set. Applewood smoked prime rib.

        1. Best cafeteria food I ever had was at a Hollywood studio. Yeah, it was organic free range tofu, but still very tasty.

          1. Best cafeteria ever- Nike, at their Portland campus.

  4. Another exhibit as to why an income tax is immoral.

    The company provides catered lunches. Catered lunches are a benefit. Catered lunches are income. Income is taxable. And the IRS won’t accept a buttered roll as payment.

    1. But they’d sure love to butter your muffin.

  5. In Canada the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) takes about $40 per paycheque as my employer provides us with a kitchen to use, stocked with breakfast cereals and sandwich ingredients.

    This came about after an audit.

    1. I would not consume that communal shit if I was starving.

      1. Too bad! There’s no opt out, you pay the tax regardless of your personal usage.

        1. Yeah well, fuck Canada/Canade.

  6. Are school lunches that result from a free lunch program taxed? If the free food in the cafeteria at a company is a compensation package, then so are food banks, free school lunches and other acts of charity.

  7. Are you Anglophiles going to acknowledge the passing of American Icon Annette Funicello?

    1. Has anyone mentioned the cops run-in with Jenna Jameson?…..olice-say/

      Come on.

    1. Have you no concern for the plight of our porn whores?

  8. I wonder if the IRS is looking to tax the freebies and discounts that restaurants give cops for the courtesy of not calling the health inspector.

    1. Yeah, and what about taxing people for the free accommodations their work provides for 8+ hours a day?

      1. True.

        If I wanted to do that on my own, I’d have to rent an office and pay power, phone, sewer, water, gas, stock the restroom, etc.

        By providing me with a workspace, functioning lights and restroom, water, and providing a place to deposit trash, the company is providing a form of compensation and should have to withhold taxes.

        Why aren’t companies paying their fair share?

        1. You forgot free parking spaces.

          1. True. If I wanted to park at my own office, I might have to pay extra to the property management company for space rental.

            I also forgot about all the networking and server infrastructure the company provides.

            That shit would be expensive if I had to source, build and maintain my own servers and network gear.

  9. Translation: IRS wants to cut into Tech Industry’s productivity.

    They don’t seem to realize that this isn’t additional “employee compensation”, this is how Tech Companies boost productivity (ie. increase taxable profits) – by getting salaried employees to spend more time at work and put in more hours than they would otherwise.

    1. There’s some money chicken fried steak on the table, the IRS wants its cut. It’s not complicated.

  10. My Team Blue bf gets free lunch everyday at his Silicon Valley start up. I will give him a big Nelson haha if he has to start paying income tax on it.

  11. I’ve been wondering why business can deduct expenses like rent and supplies, but individuals can’t deduct food and rent.

    A corporation pays taxes only on “profit”. An individual pays taxes essentially on gross revenue.
    What we should really do is all everyone to deduct food, rent (or mortgage interest), and gas from their income, so they only pay taxes on their net “profit” for the year.

  12. Why is it that the geeks get screwed by the IRS? If a salesman takes a potential client to a dinner or gets them football tickets and deducts the face value of that ticket, shouldn’t the client report the face value of the ticket as income?

    1. Yep, that rule fucks tech companies/individuals way harder than this stupid lunch tax ever will. I’m saying this as someone who had myself and my company threatened with an even more draconian state version of that rule.

  13. Google has 20+ cafes on campus. This is the main one:…..ntain-view

    They are all free for google employees and their guests…

    1. so?

      1. So? So?!! Next thing you know it’s free dinner, free booze, free rides to the titty bar after work! Where does it end? Do you know how many teacher salaries could be paid by taxing rides to the titty bars?

        1. None if Federalism is working properly.

  14. Hey, remember when that Google employee asked Obama for higher taxes? Guess what…

  15. When is Emperor Obama Bin Biden going to pay taxes on his Air Force One jet aircraft & ten trillion other bennies!?!?! I will bet I will be taxed on the air conditioning, heating, oxygen, and gravity that I consume at work, first!

    1. Rules aren’t for rulers, you silly goose!

  16. Everyone else has to buy lunch with after tax dollars. Why shouldn’t these guys?

    1. hahahh


    2. I buy all my lunches with tax free per diem.

    3. Not everyone else – I spent 20 years in the Navy getting tax-free meals (and in the latter part of my career) tax-free money for food and housing.

      Apparently the IRS only thinks that *private* employers should have to pay taxes on that stuff and *government* employees are special.

      1. They could start charging Privates for their MRE’s in the field. Let them know what they are fighting for.

  17. My office only has free coffee except for special events.

    The person I always see refilling her coffee – our full-time IRS troll, making sure Uncle Sam is getting his 40%.

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