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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Does this Fact Need to Be Specified?

It is not the first time that I have seen a letter writer write, in regards to their salary, "I get paid on the books." (Also see here).

Yashrut must be at an all-time low if one has to remind others he gets paid on the books (i.e. he receives a W-2 or completes a Schedule C) when writing a letter about financial matters. Isn't the default assumption that you and I pay taxes, the amounts varying of course?

Just in case my readers are interested, "I get paid on the books" too. :) But besides translating post-tax dollars into an understandable pre-tax dollar figure or visa versa, I don't see the need to point out that we are honest. On would hope the default assumption is that we are honest.


concernedjewgirl said...

Unfortunately, in the world we live in now...the default assumption is that you are scamming the governement, or someone else and that you are anything but honest.

Dave said...

It sounds like this is the case in the frum world (at least in New York).

It may be the case in much of New York City in general, I have no idea.

It is decidedly not the case in the normative culture.

ProfK said...

Sorry to disagree Dave but it is most decidely the thing in the normative culture. How many elected officials have gotten in trouble because their household help of all kinds was "off the books"? Tons. Know anyone in that "normative" culture in the agriculture industry who isn't using "questionable" help that is paid off the books?

I looked through my phone book and discovered that all but two people in it--all frum--work in salaried, on the books, jobs. The two who don't own their own businesses and their employees are all on the books.

Does this happen in all frum communities? I imagine that there is always going to be someone who plays this game, but then that is the case outside of the frum communities as well. NYC has the largest concentration of Jews in the country so the number of people who play these games will probably be higher than in other frum communities, but I would doubt that the percentage of the frum population they represent is higher.

I'm not a cheerleader for NY but this is hardly an isolated "New York" problem.

Anonymous said...

Many people who work off the books - cheat the federal and state government out of taxes and then they cheat yeshivas by claiming scholarships -

full tuition parents then subsidize the children of these criminals

Child Ish Behavior said...

Let me just point out that the ganovim at the IRS steal a lot of money from the people of this country, which they then go and spend on the old and the poor.

In order to prevent such horribleness many people decide to work for people that allow them to keep the money that they earn. These people are true yidden who want to defend themselves from the Rodfim who want to suck them dry for every penny that they have.

For this woman to say that she pays taxes is just an admittance of weakness and nothing more. Would you admit to being stupid in from of your friends? Isn't it enough to give away 10% maasar even though you are a kollel guy earning 10,000. If the fellow's wife decides to get a job on the side, does she have to be taxed again by the government just because she happens to be earning a little extra cash?


Dave said...

Hiring illegal workers (many of whom actually work "on the books", but with false papers) is unfortunately common across the culture.

((Having said that, I should note that I know a fair number of farmers, since I live in a rural area, and all the ones I know personally are small family farms -- I don't even think they bring in outside labor))

But widespread tax fraud (and given the number of letters I've seen which do include "we're on the books" or other implications that the Yeshivas have built their finances on the assumption that a significant percentage of their families are committing fraud), no, that isn't the norm. Nor are the games played in some sections of the frum community to maximize the government handouts the norm.

In my personal experience, I've been more worried about making sure that we could make people aware of small scholarships for their children without insulting their pride than that someone is scamming the system.

Dave said...

((Oh, and to clarify, when I said "It may be the case in much of New York City in general, I have no idea.", I was referring to New York as a whole - religious and secular, sorry if that wasn't clear))

qsman said...

See comment 89 on that thread :)

tesyaa said...

I have heard this too. I hired a very aidel woman to tutor my son and after a few weeks she told me I didn't have to always pay in cash (which I had been doing for convenience). She said it was OK to pay by check because "we report everything." I think it's just a sad fact that people do try to avoid paying taxes.

And what about a contractor who asks you to pay cash? I have been told that it's not your responsibility to find out if he's paying taxes properly. But what about those who offer a discount for cash? It's pretty obvious that something's going on there. By the way, this is done by non-Jewish contractors also.

Ariella said...

I've also had a few cash payments for ads. But even the cash goes into the business checking account. And I always tell people to make the check to the business name not to my own or the name of "cash" -- the usual payee on checks in frum businesses. I even stressed to one advertiser that advertising is a tax deductible expense for her business. This seemed to be news to her.

Lion of Zion said...

"But what about those who offer a discount for cash? It's pretty obvious that something's going on there."

perhaps they want to avoid the transaction fee they pay credit card companies or the hassles and unpredictability of dealing with checks. (i've noticed that gas stations are starting to offer cash discounts.)

triLcat said...

For a tutor, I don't expect it to be on the books, unless they do it as a profession, just as you don't expect a teenage babysitter to give you a receipt and pay taxes.

Truth be told, I'm very careful now to work only on the books despite not meeting any minimum for taxes (I've been working 4-5 hours per week since my daughter was born) so that I'll be eligible for paid maternity leave.

JLan said...

"i've noticed that gas stations are starting to offer cash discounts"

That's actually a bit of "back to the future"- when they first started taking credit cards there was usually a surcharge on them.

In a similar vein, some stores have minimum charges for credit card (despite that being against their contract). I generally have no objection to it, since I know that it costs them a significant amount to take credit cards, and they seem to waive the minimum if I actually don't have the cash on me.