524 The $15 Scare
The paycheck was a few bucks bigger this time. Fifteen dollars. Didn't make any sense.
At first, comparing the various statistics on this stub and the previous one didn't do much to help figure out why. Same rate, same hours, different result.
Then, the "ahah!" moment. They forgot to take out federal withholding.
In the movies, this is where the scary music would start. Like when someone's about to get murdered or the hatch on the flying saucer that landed in Jersey City begins to creak open.
Okay, what does one do when the payroll company forgets something major, like, say, taking out federal taxes. Several phone calls later, mystery solved. The boss says "you voted for the right guy. This is the Obama stimulus plan in action. They skipped withholding this time and you have all that extra money to spend."
They what? They skipped federal withholding? On purpose?
Which raises a quandary. What to do with that extra 15 bucks.
It's not a tank of gas. It's not a meal for two. It's certainly not enough to start a "small business" and hire some out of work types.
The bribe from the Bush administration was $600, and that was spent before it came in. Spent twice, in fact. Fifteen bucks? Stick it in a certificate of deposit?
Um... the banks probably won't sell you a CD for 15 bucks.
Of course, a 15 dollar windfall is better than no windfall at all. And it's certainly better to have an explanation than it is to worry about some IRS clerk catching the mistake a year from now and hauling you in to see what other nefarious deeds you've done or that have been done in your behalf.
So it's come to this: getting a fatter paycheck without getting an actual raise has become a source not of prosperity but of fear, even if temporary. and getting a fatter paycheck has become a reason to start an investigation of your payroll outfit to make sure they're on the up and up.
Okay. Cue the scary music and let the saucer hatch creak open. Fifteen bucks is enough for a couple of movie tickets.
--Maybe there IS a reason for the AIG bonuses. Maybe the recipients were rewarded for good performance. For that to happen, the goal must have been to destroy the company, at which they did an unquestionably brilliant job.
--Many in the radio biz have no use left for John Donald Imus. But he cleared the way for the rest of us to be funny and silly and sometimes slanderous on the air, which counts for something. Get well soon, you idiot.
--New food labeling laws have taken effect, so we know which country shipped us the slop from which we catch some dread disease. Handy datum, this. It'll give our surviving relatives something new and different to be mad about.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®