Now, for something completely different

Posted On: Monday - April 20th 2020 12:36PM MST
In Topics: 
  Music  Economics  US Feral Government

Shhhh, don't say "pay", it's "reimbursement", dammit! Here:

See, no Kung Flu, COVID-one-niner, whatever, talk this time. It's time for a slight break on that, so take off your masks and gloves, put on your green eye shades, and let's talk tax accounting.

We've talked about the Tax Starvation under the Kung Flu lockdown, something I think may really be an oversight by the local and State officials, with their "oh shit" moments coming in their near futures. It's important, though, that we starve at least the Feral Beast on a more regular basis rather than just during these (hopefully) short-term Panic-Fests.

Whaddya' normally do? You can write this off, this other thing ... ahhhh, they won't notice this bit..., get going 9:30 PM on April 14th, and try to goose up the numbers to... well, that's the problem. As Peak Stupidity pointed out in our 2018 Income Tax review about the changes a couple of years ago, the biggest thing was the raising of the standard deduction from $12,000 to #24,000*. You may itemize your scrawny white ass off, but after x% of your income comes off the job expenses and y% off the health care expenses, how's a brother gonna' get up to 24 large, man? "The man's too big, the man's too strong."**

Just due to some retrenching going on with my work due to the economic shutdown, questions have come up about pay, reimbursements, etc. The more I've been thinking about this, the more I have an idea for small businessmen everywhere: Cut the pay, but raise reimbursement to the moon. It's brilliant! I'm talking reimbursement on a fixed basis, for, you know, standard employee expenses.

"Yes, people, pay will go down to minimum wage for everyone. However, so long as you spend the night away from YOUR home, somewhere, we will reimburse you with per Diem money at $5/hr 24/7. (Justin, you're with Jayne, Trevor - Madison, Gay Bob - I don't ... wanna know ...) We want you to looks your best here, so they'll be $1000 per quarter to keep you in suits, classic Eagles T-shirts, pant-suits and miniskirts. Most of you drive in here, right? That's $20 a mile. Sneakers? Lousy China-made crap... they're gonna wear out going back and forth to the water cooler and bathroom - $120 a month for sneakers. Cats and dogs stuck at home? $200 a month for sitters."

Look Ma, no taxes! Yeah, there are ways. I don't know how far one can go with this method, but the income tax system has made more creative people out of all of us, one welcome unintended consequence of Amendment XVI - see more on this abomination - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

* Sounds great in and of itself, but the "exemptions" formerly to be also taken off the top line, are, like a steam locomotive, rollin' down the track, gone, gone, ain't nothin' gonna bring 'em back. (That means near a wash for 2 parents and 1 kid and a somewhat worse deal for more than 1 kid - there was an increase in the child CREDIT though (off the BOTTOM line, which is a bigger deal))

** My interpretation of this Dire Straits song (off of their excellent 1985 album Brothers in Arms) is that we Americans can be "The Man", and the narrator could be the Feral Beast, tax-starved into submission. (I dunno, it's just a good song...)

Well the sun rose on the courtyard,
and they all did hear him say
"you always was a Judas,
but I got you anyway.
You may have got your silver,
but I swear upon my life.
Your sister gave me diamonds,
and I gave them to your wife."
Oh Father, please help me,
for I have done wrong.
The man's too big,
The man's too strong.

[UPDATED 04/20 eve: ]
In reply to commenter Hail, I changed the image and a couple of lines of text to indicate this is about fixed-cost reimbursement - per diem is the biggie.

Tuesday - April 21st 2020 6:27AM MST
PS. There’s a really good live electric version from April 1971–was released on “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Grateful Dead”. Couldn’t find a youtube version, though. That’s a great album- pre Godchaux Dead at its best.
Tuesday - April 21st 2020 6:19AM MST
PS: I've always been partial to the first version I'd heard, off of Dead Reckoning, Mr. G.:

From a post about tragedy narrowly averted, it goes like this ...
Tuesday - April 21st 2020 5:27AM MST
Tuesday - April 21st 2020 5:21AM MST
“Big locomotive, right on time
Big locomotive going down the line
Big locomotive number 99
Left the engineer with a worried mind.”
Monday - April 20th 2020 9:50PM MST
PS: Mr. Hail, I agree with you on the economic principle here, and perhaps I shouldn't have shown the form above as my "file photo". I am familiar with a system in which employees get tax-free per-diem money. Most are very thrifty in their spending habits. They treat the money as part of their paychecks, which is my point. Without any income tax, payroll tax (the never-to-be-seen-again SS), etc., it adds up to a significant amount.

There are also a couple of other items that are reimbursed that everyone DOES have to get on a yearly basis. By "being nice" and officially reimbursing those things, the company can dole out money the same way, tax free. Same thing, nobody splurges, because this money is the same no matter how you spend your own.

Monday - April 20th 2020 7:45PM MST
PS - The practice of companies reimbursing people for expenses definitely incentives waste. It's a practice which often doesn't have very strict oversight bc you want to trust your own people to encourage morale, and not be seen to be pinching pennies.

Take the smallest of examples. If you are "out on business" somewhere, under some generalized business-expense system, and you get thirsty and look to buy a bottled water, what do you do? How many would bother shopping around?

How many would get the first one they see regardless of if it's 2x or 3x as expensive as a simple 30-second stroll down a store aisle to find the cheap waters, or whatever?

Even worse, but unfortunately pretty common, how many would buy the most expensive water they can find, knowing it's "free," at a cost many times as expensive as the shop-around-cheapo one. The Deluxe Fiji Water mixed with Special Blend Perrier in a gold-plated collector's container. or whatever. It's all reimbursed! Now scale up above water bottles.
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