(I’m still on yesterday’s topic of employees’ views of our bonus plan.)
Them: Why are you just including it with our pay instead of giving us an extra check?
Me: Well, we could have done that. But by law the bonus is part of your “ordinary income” or compensation, and so it is subject to normal taxes and must be included on your W-2. So we have to process the bonus through our payroll system. And an extra check run is kind of expensive, so we’d rather save that money to pay you a bigger bonus.
Them: But I thought this was supposed to be “mad money.”
Me (intentionally playing dumb): I don’t understand. Money is money. You can use it for anything you like.
Them: Yeah, but if you separate it from our pay it’s better.
Me (knowing what's coming, but making them say it): Why?
Them: Well... (hem...haw... shuffle... look at the ground) if it’s separate my wife won’t see it and I can spend it on beer and stuff.
(Honest! That’s what several of them told me!!)
Me (struggling to keep a straight face and not explode in some combination of laughter and frustration): Okaaaaay, well, how about this. I’ll let you know in advance what your bonus amount will be. You can then use this form to have that amount direct deposited into a different checking or savings account that only you know about. Then, before our next pay period, you can change it back. She’ll never know unless you show her the pay record (like a check stub that details where the money came from and all deductions.)
Them: Dude!! That’ll work. You’re a genius!
(I actually got this request from several of the men, and believe it or not, one of the women who work here. Her excuse was, “It’s Christmas money, and my husband would just spend it if he knew we had it.” Hard to tell, but from the look in her eyes I think she had other personal plans for it herself.)
“What terrible tangled webs we weave...”