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Corporate gift or business bribe

In the corporate world a present could be the difference between improving a working relationship and offending a client. But why is it so important for businesses to be aware of being accused of bribery? David Adams explains.

Most of us are familiar with corporate gifting. The practice has probably existed in one form or another for as long as there have been private businesses. It has now evolved into an effective business tool used to thank clients for their custom, though care must be taken to ensure that over-generous gift-giving does not tip into something that could be construed as bribery. Corporate gifting can also refer to gifts given to an organisation’s own staff at particular times of year, as a way to thank them for their efforts or to recognise key moments in their professional or personal lives, such as a long period of service, or their forthcoming wedding.

The UK corporate gifting market was worth £78.3m by the end of 2016, according to research from gift card provider One4All. The same study suggested that 49% of UK workers had received some form of corporate gift and the average spend was £50 per gift. This is in part due to the fact that HMRC allows you to claim business gifts worth up to £50 to any one person in any one tax year. The caveat is that the gifts must be business related (eg, a work diary), so cannot be food, alcohol or tobacco. It also must not be vouchers that can be exchanged for any of the above.

This is an extract from the Business & Management Magazine, Issue 269, November 2018.  

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