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What Businesses in the US Need To Know About Preparing For the Holidays

The Holiday season is often the busiest time of year for a lot of businesses. From shipping deadlines to taxable and non-taxable gift guidelines, there is a lot of  things to bear in mind to ensure that your business is ready for the Holidays.

Christmas 2015: Dates and Deadlines for US Businesses

Official Holiday Dates

In 2015, Christmas Day will be Friday, December 25th. The vast majority of businesses (with the exception of restaurant chains and some convenience stores) will be closed on Christmas Day, and many will operate a reduced schedule on Christmas Eve too. Banks will be closed across the United States, and some financial institutions will also close early on December 24th.

Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Every year, the United States Postal Service publishes its Holiday posting and shipping deadlines. Domestic letters and parcels sent via Standard Post service must be posted by December 15th if they are to arrive on December 24th at the latest. Letters and parcels sent within the United States using First Class mail service must be posted by December 19th. Domestic items sent via Priority Mail should be on their way by December 21st, whereas letters and parcels sent to US addresses using Priority Mail Express can be posted as late as December 23rd.

The following deadlines apply to items sent to military or diplomatic addresses:

  • November 7th for items sent via Standard Post
  • November 25th for items sent via Space Available Mail
  • December 3rd for items sent via Parcel Airlift Mail
  • December 10th for items sent via Priority Mail and First Class Mail
  • December 17th for items sent via Priority Mail Express – Military service

The deadlines for letters and parcels addressed to international destinations vary from country to country, with last shipping dates ranging between December 1st for First Class International mail to December 21st for items sent via Global Express Guaranteed. For a full list of international destinations and their applicable deadlines, please visit the USPS site at

Christmas Tips for US-Based Online Retailers

According to recent statistics, as many as 47 per cent of all US consumers buy some or all of their Christmas gifts online. This draws attention to the importance that holiday e-commerce sales have for retailers across the nation, regardless of business size or geographical location. It is now the norm for US businesses that operate online to launch Christmas specials and sales in order to attract higher revenues, but there is an ongoing debate as to when it is a good time to start offering holiday promotions. Research data show that just over 15 per cent of online retailers who cater to the US market begin to offer Christmas deals and promotions in early October. Other researchers have pointed out that nearly 48 per cent of consumers do all their Christmas shopping before Cyber Monday (late November).

Research firm eMarketer has revealed that e-marketing is one of the most effective tools to help online retailers make the most of the festive season. US-based online businesses should consider implementing an automated email marketing system that informs existing and prospective customers of the best deals well in advance of the Holiday shopping rush. It goes without saying that every online retailer should ensure that their websites are mobile friendly and ready for the Christmas shopping season, as it is estimated that 25 per cent of all Christmas shopping-related transactions are carried out using a mobile device.

Taxation Guidelines for the Christmas Season

The Christmas season has clear tax implications for US employers, particularly where holiday gifts, parties, and compensation are involved. These are regulated by sections 61, 102, and 132 of the Internal Revenue Code and by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Here’s a list of the most important guidelines to bear in mind:

  • Taxable Christmas gifts: By definition, all gifts given to staff members or clients on the occasion of the Christmas festivities are subject to federal income tax according to Section 132 of the IRS Code. This includes but it is not limited to Christmas bonuses, corporate gifts, and the cost of organizing Christmas parties.
  • Non-taxable Christmas gifts: Tax exemptions apply to gifts or expenses that are considered de minimis fringe benefits. These exclude cash and refer to items whose monetary value is minimal, such as group lunches or dinners, flowers, soft drinks, coffee, fruit, or tickets to cultural performances and sporting events. Gift certificates and store vouchers are not generally considered de minimis benefits.

For detailed information on all Christmas-related taxation guidelines, please visit the IRS website at



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