Usually it is charged as income.You should consult a tax consultant or accountant to acertain what you can do to avoid paying too much tax on this windfall.
A company cannot make a gift to a person (only to a charitable organization); it may be a "bonus", but whatever way you look at it, it is taxable income to the employee. And, yes, forgiving a debt is income.
This information is not intended to substitute for professional legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should accept legal advice only from a licensed legal professional with whom you have an attorney-client relationship.