The Case For (And Against) Surrogate Taxation
33 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2019 Last revised: 17 Dec 2019
Date Written: September 19, 2019
The 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act significantly revised long-standing rules regarding the tax treatment of many employer provided in-kind benefits. Instead of including the value of these benefits in the recipients’ taxable income, for the most part the new rules disallow employers a deduction for the cost of providing the affected benefits. This article argues that the two components of this legislative scheme – relying on cost of provision as the measure of taxable income and on imposing the nominal tax obligation on providers rather than recipients – are distinct policy decisions. It argues that the better approach would be to require employers to allocate their costs of providing benefits among recipients of those benefits.
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