Money & Business

Treasury Issues Guidance on Fringe Benefits Tax

By / Dec 14, 2018 (Kit L./iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus)

New guidance from the Treasury Department provides some certainty to associations about how to handle their new tax liability for parking and mass transit benefits provided to employees. Meanwhile, ASAE and others continue to press for repeal of the provision.

While congressional leaders worked this week to repeal the new fringe benefits tax on nonprofits, the Treasury Department issued interim guidance on December 10 to help soften the tax blow on the sector.

Last year’s tax law sets a 21 percent tax on so-called fringe benefits, such as free parking or mass transit assistance, that nonprofits provide to employees. ASAE and many other tax-exempt organizations have been asking for this guidance and for a delay in implementing the provision for almost a year.

Treasury is offering tax-exempt organizations a roadmap for navigating their responsibilities.

“Treasury is sensitive to the concerns of the tax-exempt community and hopes this guidance can significantly limit the impact on nonprofit groups,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement this week. “Treasury is offering tax-exempt organizations a roadmap for navigating their responsibilities. The guidance issued today aims to provide flexibility while minimizing the burden on nonprofit groups that provide employee parking.”

The guidance allows tax-exempt organizations to retroactively reduce the amount of nondeductible parking expenses and provides a safe harbor for nonprofits potentially to exclude all parking expenses from the tax. The guidance stipulates that only parking expenses associated with employee reserved spots are included when calculating unrelated business income tax.

Tax-exempt groups have until March 31 to eliminate their employee-reserved spots and avoid the tax entirely. Treasury also provides estimated tax penalty relief for 2018 for tax-exempt organizations that offer these benefits.

ASAE is still analyzing the Treasury guidance but says is appears to provide tax-exempt organizations some certainty until Congress can change the law. ASAE and the UBIT Coalition, which includes almost 100 tax-exempt organizations, support Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady’s (R-TX) recent efforts to repeal the tax entirely.

Chris Vest, CAE

Chris Vest, CAE is director of public policy at ASAE. More »

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