Most US workers will receive a holiday bonus this year, study finds

Most companies won't be Scrooges this year when it comes to the holiday bonus

A Maryland real estate company made headlines earlier this week when it unexpectedly delivered a life-changing surprise to its nearly 200 employees: A collective $10 million bonus, averaging about $50,000 per person.

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For those envious of those employees, don’t fret: St. John Properties isn't the only company giving its employees a holiday bonus. With less than three weeks left in the year, 65 percent of companies are expected to give workers a year-end bonus or perk, according to new data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

That’s slightly down from 2016, when 66 percent of human resources departments indicated their companies would offer employees a year-end gift. The Chicago-based company polled 250 human resources executives online from Nov. 10 through Dec. 1.

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Of course, most bonuses won’t match the $10 million given by St. John or the more than $100 million split between 3,000 Lincoln Electric Co. employees in Cleveland two years ago. About 20 percent of respondents said they would give employees less than $100, while under 11 percent said they will offer a gift basket or an extra vacation day.

Twenty-four percent of respondents said they'll award a bonus to select employees, based on their contribution throughout the year, while about 10 percent said the size of the bonus depends on the employee's work.

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That also pales in comparison to the average Wall Street bonus of $153,700, according to New York State Comptroller data, which is more than double the median income in the U.S. In total, the average Wall Street bonus has increased by 1,000 percent since 1985, while comparatively, minimum wage has risen just 16 percent, according to Inequality.org.

Shoppers browse the Holiday Lane section at the Macy's flagship store in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Still, a number of companies that used to give cash bonuses have stopped “because of the economy,” Challenger’s director of public relations and research Colleen Madden told The Washington Post. And many haven’t increased that bonus since 2016.

The money may also be nothing to write home about.

According to TurboTax, the IRS generally considers bonuses to be “supplemental wages,” meaning they’re treated differently than your normal paycheck when it comes to taxes. For instance, if you received a $5,000 bonus, that’d be taxed at a 25 percent rate; under this rule, $1,250 would go to the IRS.

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