Oops, 7 Days. Hey look I don't update on weekends.

unlimited-use Metro card problem

Our nonprofit agency provides monthly, unlimited-use Metro cards to certain staff members. Administrators want staff to use these cards for business trips only. Would it be ethical to use the cards for personal travel too?
Permalink name withheld, Bronx 
April 9th, 2007 11:44pm
It's fine, the card is good for unlimited use by a single person.
Permalink Practical Economist 
April 9th, 2007 11:46pm
Whoever you are posting these: you should indicate that they're quotes and include a link to whatever page you're taking them from.
Permalink Send private email Ward 
April 9th, 2007 11:47pm
I didn't post the question, but I think by now everyone's figured out the always come from "The Ethicist" column.
Permalink Practical Economist 
April 9th, 2007 11:50pm
If they're monthly and unlimited use for a set price, why would the employer care how much it was used?  Are they obtaining usage statistics from the MTA that would be skewed by personal usage?

That's management in control freak mode.  God forbid their employees should get something for nothing.
Permalink AMerrickanGirl from Merrick, NY 
April 10th, 2007 6:56am
The sole reason I could think of would be if they were treated as a taxable benefit in kind.
Permalink Send private email a cynic writes... 
April 10th, 2007 7:32am
But even then, the price is the same, so why would the employer care?  Maybe the IRS would care, but not the employer.
Permalink AMerrickanGirl 
April 10th, 2007 7:49am
I believe the paperwork is a pain in the arse...
Permalink Send private email a cynic writes... 
April 10th, 2007 8:24am
It's quite unethical to support the Man by paying for the ticket anyway
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
April 10th, 2007 8:55am
oh for fuck\'s sake ward. you deleted the other two ethical problems and now I can\'t post.  come on.
Permalink bob 
April 10th, 2007 9:06am
Sure it would be ethical.

Administrators probably want a million dollars, too.

That doesn't mean failing to hand them all your money is unethical.
Permalink JoC 
April 10th, 2007 9:52am
The likeliest situation here is that they really don't care if you use it (why would they?), but for tax reasons they need to have said "don't use it" in order to indemnify themselves.

It's a bit like all those bomb making manuals you read as a kid - they all had "this is for educational purposes only" written all over it in order to protect themselves from prosecution.
Permalink Colm 
April 10th, 2007 10:21am
+1 colm.
Permalink Send private email Kenny 
April 10th, 2007 12:40pm
But more than just protecting themselves, they are protecting you.

Think of it this way, if you are to use it for personal use, it can be treated as a perk (taxable). If not, it is a legitimate business expenditure (the equivalent of you paying for all business journeys and then claiming it back on expenses).

Another similar one is company telephone accounts, where you have to painstakingly go through the itemised bill, to identify all personal calls, and you end up writing the company a cheque for £0.50 for your personal calls.

Believe me, companies would rather do without this, but this is as much for your protection as it is theirs.
Permalink Send private email Tapiwa 
April 10th, 2007 1:03pm
I think cynic figured it out. The IRS forms actually have a box "Do you have a written policy prohibiting employees from using company cars for personal use?" that you have to check 'yes' if you want to deduct all costs associated with the cars. The company accounting is extrapolating from that rule to Metro passes, and it's probably true the IRS would disallow the deduction without this stupid written policy. Welcome to life in a bureaucracy.
Permalink Practical Economist 
April 10th, 2007 1:50pm
>  The IRS forms actually have a box

You're a bullshiter.

Which form?

http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html
Permalink bogger 
April 11th, 2007 11:27pm
Willing to make it interesting? Let's say to the tune of a $350,000 bet, cash to be placed by each party in escrow, winner take all. If there is an IRS form that asks if companies have a written policy prohibiting employees from personal use of vehicles, I win. If I can't show this you win.

Time to put up or shut up. Show if you are serious my little friend.
Permalink Practical Economist 
April 12th, 2007 1:52am
You expect me to bet 350K over the content of an IRS form? LOL.
Permalink bogger 
April 12th, 2007 2:52pm
Wuss. Be a man, put up the money.
Permalink Practical Economist 
April 12th, 2007 3:35pm
OK. Deal.  Draw up the papers.  Make it happy.  Post a pdf to the contract, I'll sign it and return it to you.
Permalink bogger 
April 12th, 2007 4:23pm

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