What employee benefits can you give yourself?
September 17, 2021 9:11 AM   Subscribe

If you are your only employee, what benefits does your company offer its employees (i.e. yourself)?

I am a very simple US-based one-person freelance outfit. My tax guy told me to incorporate, so I did. I pay myself monthly through a payroll service, and I'm not doing the sort of work that would scale or require me to hire anyone else, so this is the situation indefinitely.

But it occurs to me that many employers offer their employees excellent benefits besides retirement and healthcare, and that I could offer these to mine as well. If you recognize yourself in this situation, what creative (and legal) benefits do you offer as a company? Do you subsidize your employee's gym membership? Pay for monthly massages? Take your employees on company retreats?

This is not a request for tax advice. I'm not interested in breaking the law. Just wondering what I haven't considered. Thanks!
posted by catesbie to Work & Money (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Good company-supplied snacks in the break room. if they are healthy, it can be part of a wellness program!

Company pays for training, of course.

How about a match on charitable contributions, and paid time off for volunteering?
posted by wenestvedt at 9:28 AM on September 17, 2021

I'm in your same situation. My company pays for health insurance, SEP contributions (25% of gross income), phone plan, internet, laptop, and art supplies/books/museum visits (I'm a graphic designer).
posted by mcduff at 9:34 AM on September 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

Well, from my company I get books, subscriptions to online learning platforms, yes to gym memberships (and transit subsidies, but probably not relevant here). Flu shots. Company swag - I never need to buy a hoodie again, and I have a ton of tshirts, notebooks, nice pens, even branded bluetooth speakers. Lots of snacks, good teas and coffees, sparkling water dispensers. High end laptops, standing desks, headsets and ergonomic everything.
posted by cgg at 10:20 AM on September 17, 2021

posted by AugustWest at 11:07 AM on September 17, 2021

A "healthy workplace" could include ergonomic workstation, chair, standing desk, trackball...but also possibly physical therapy or massage work?
posted by wenestvedt at 11:21 AM on September 17, 2021

I would get a good coffee subscription in a heartbeat.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 11:24 AM on September 17, 2021

Best answer: Pay for monthly massages? Take your employees on company retreats?

I am not an expert but my understanding is that the IRS takes a dim view on deducting anything that could be considered a personal benefit for work purposes. A company retreat for a company with multiple employees serves a business purpose by bringing employees together for bonding and communication. For a company of one, that's just a vacation. But selecting a conference someplace you want to go would be fine, within reason.

Things like fitness benefits only are deductible for big companies if they're provided on-site. Offsite ones are a taxable benefit.

This discusses some tax implications of fringe benefits for S Corps, if that's what you have as does this (along with some information on LLCs etc.).
posted by Candleman at 11:35 AM on September 17, 2021 [7 favorites]

You can buy a very fancy office chair and claim the tax benefits, it will never be a free chair but dependent on your tax laws you can effectively get a significant discount.
posted by Lanark at 12:13 PM on September 17, 2021

Response by poster: Appreciate the insight, Candleman. As I suspected, I'm probably doing as much as I reasonably can (e.g., office supplies and equipment). My accountant did suggest hiring my spouse (I could not possibly justify this or do it correctly) and paying their childcare, but frankly that feels a little complicated and gross.
posted by catesbie at 11:03 AM on September 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

You can hire your spouse and pay their childcare?! I get the first part but not the second. Why can’t you just pay for childcare for “yourself”? I believe I was told by my accountant that this is not possible. (Though it sure as hell should be.)
posted by amanda at 4:29 PM on September 18, 2021

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