All cash awards, cash-equivalent gift cards, or giftcards redeemable in cash must be reported as taxable income to employees (U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, and resident and nonresident aliens), including student employees. Use the Gift Card/Certificate Reporting Form below.
Cornell Appreciation and Recognition awards or "Spot" recognition awards are not considered taxable income to employees. The Appreciation and Recognition award program provides nonnegotiable Amazon points or a Cornell Store gift card that only confers the right to receive tangible personal property, which are not redeemable or exchangeable for cash, and are excludable from taxable income up to $75 under IRS regulations.
Gifts of tangible personal property (other than cash, a gift card or certificate that is redeemable in cash, or a cash-equivalent item) given as an award for length of service or a safety achievement is excluded from taxable income, limited to a cost of up to $400 received during the year, or if the value of the award is minor (e.g., Cornell merchandise such as clothing, mugs, etc.).
Report cash awards, gift cards, or gift certificates over $75 to the University Tax Office on the Gift Card/Certificate Reporting Form for inclusion in IRS Form 1099 or 1042-S database for year-end tax reporting.
For U.S. citizens and U.S. resident aliens, no IRS Form 1099 is generated unless all payments received by U.S. citizens or U.S. resident aliens exceed the reporting threshold of $600 annually.
For foreign nationals/nonresident aliens, IRS Form 1042-S is generated for all payments received and reported. Because the IRS-required 30% tax was not withheld, the unit will be charged the 30% tax, based upon the amount of the gift card or gift certificate provided.
Any questions regarding the forgoing rules should be sent to the University Tax Office.
Exceptions are permitted when providing gift cards for human subject or research participants. Consult Cornell'sor . Departments should maintain all relevant private payment information for possible tax reporting.
To ensure compliance with IRS rules, the Gift Card/Certificate Reporting Form (PDF, 45 KB) must be completed when a faculty or staff member purchases a gift card or gift certificate for an individual or individuals (including current and former students, current and former or retiring employees), and preferably before the gift card/certificate is presented.