Saturday, October 2, 2010

What rumors are true?

Last week some information came to me which, if true, is quite disturbing. It pertained to a vehicle expense reimbursement plan for a couple of county employees who live outside McHenry County and commute to work.

Investigation continues, but perhaps there are readers who can solve the inquiry more rapidly. The issue pertains to a $350 gas allowance for a couple of employees, at least one of whom lives in Lake County. These McHenry County employees drive to work in personally-owned vehicles and reportedly suck up $350/month to pay the operating expenses of the cars while commuting.

For most hard-working stiffs, especially the ones earning less than the $100,000/year that one of the employees might be earning, they pay commuting expenses out of after-tax income. The expenses of driving to and from work are a personal expense and non-deductible on an income tax return.

An employee might make a decision about a job offer, based on how far the workplace is from home, how long it will take to get there, how much it will cost to go back and forth, and what the working hours are. At other times, applicants are desperate to work (sure beats being unemployed) and will take a job almost regardless of the distance.

Commuting expenses are personal expenses. Period.

Now, miles driven on business for an employer ought to be reimbursable. In fact, the IRS allows $0.50/mile for business mileage. If an employee uses a personally-owned vehicle for his employer's purpose, such as driving to a meeting during a workday, the employer might even reimburse that employee at the $0.50/mile rate.

But commuting? No way! The particular employees are not on emergency call. There is no regular business use of personally-owned vehicles. They are employees at the employer's place of business.

Does your employer pay you to commute to work?

More information will follow, once all the facts are uncovered.


M.U.G. said...

Maybe these people signed a contract and within that document was mileage reimbursement. Private business does it. Perhaps they also have, by contract, a nice severance package. You know like Walt from MCC had. Of course at the expense of the taxpayer.

Gus said...

Private industry might make a deal like this with an applicant for a job. The officers of the company are responsibie for it, and the board of directors and the stockholders get the ultimate say.

But a deal like this, if made by the "boss" in a County hiring process, stinks. Hopefully, it's just a rumor, which is why I haven't disclosed the names or positions (or even the part of County government).

sadist said...

Would these employees happen to be deputies that live too far out of jurisdiction to have take home squads? If so, why do they have to pay for expenses other deputies don't have to?

Gus said...

You're kidding; right?

Deputies don't get take-home squad cars so that they won't have to bear the personal expense of commuting to/from work. At least, I hope they don't!

To answer your question; no, the first two employees in question about a $350/month gas allowance are not deputies.

Since commuting expense is a personal, non-deductible item, why would these two employees get a "perk" that equals $4,200 in additional taxable income, subject to withholding and reporting?

Why wouldn't the annual salary just include whatever the Sheriff wanted to pay them as compensation for (employment) services to be rendered?

sadist said...

No, personal expense is not the reason for a take home squad.

Gus said...

Right. Take-home squads are supposed to be for the County's benefit. How many times in a year are deputies called out after-hours?

Perhaps you could help us with an explanation of your question: "Would these employees happen to be deputies that live too far out of jurisdiction to have take home squads?"

If a deputy lives out-of-County and is not provided a take-home squad, why would he get a gas reimbursement for commuting expense? Is that a perk in McHenry County that taxpayers don't know about?