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?
It's fine, the card is good for unlimited use by a single person.
Whoever you are posting these: you should indicate that they're quotes and include a link to whatever page you're taking them from.
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.
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.
The sole reason I could think of would be if they were treated as a taxable benefit in kind.
But even then, the price is the same, so why would the employer care? Maybe the IRS would care, but not the employer.
It's quite unethical to support the Man by paying for the ticket anyway
oh for fuck\'s sake ward. you deleted the other two ethical problems and now I can\'t post. come on.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> The IRS forms actually have a box
You're a bullshiter.
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.
April 12th, 2007 1:52am