Employee awards in the form of gift cards are considered taxable income, says the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, putting to rest a long period of ambiguity in regard to the issue. The new law includes a provision which differentiates cash, gift cards, gift certificates, and cash equivalents from “tangible property” such as watches, pens, and plaques – all of which are nontaxable.
Other employee award items that are considered as taxable income by the IRS include:
Vacations, meals, and lodging
Tickets to theater productions or sporting events
Stocks, bonds, and other securities