The employment relationship is the seat of a very substantial number of exclusions from gross income. You will find that the benefits excluded from gross income by §§ 79, 106, 119, 127, 129, 132, and 137 are only available to “an employee.” Employment-based exclusions from gross income can have a powerful influence in shaping employment relationships. Be alert to the possibility that the employer may capture the benefit of the exclusion through the simple expedient of paying employees less than it otherwise would have. We should expect employees to deem employers who pay substandard wages in exchange for benefits that employees don’t really want to be not particularly desirable. The converse is true also: employees should seek out employers who provide benefits that they particularly value.
There is overlap between benefits provided in the employment setting that the Code excludes from gross income and social benefits that the Code excludes from gross income. An implicit message is that the employment setting is where employees should seek and employers should provide certain social benefits. See whether you agree.