DEAR CARRIE: I have been working for a vendor, first at Shea Stadium and now at Citi Field for 32 years.
When you work during 57 games in the season, you receive a bonus check at the end of the year. When I received my check, I saw that $925 in taxes had been taken out, when the amount should have been $466. When I called payroll and stated that I was overtaxed, the person I spoke with said the department couldn’t do anything about it. I have not cashed the check. I am hoping you can help me. I am 64 years old with a 32-year-old autistic son and a husband who is a thyroid cancer survivor. I really need the money.
— Taxing Situation
DEAR TAXING: While it is probably true that payroll couldn’t help you, it must have increased your frustration exponentially to hear someone say that without telling you why.
Here’s how an accountant I turned to for answers explained it: “Once taxes are withheld and remitted by the employer to the taxing authorities, the employee has to wait until he or she files their taxes for the year to get the refund, if any that might be due,” said Carol Markman, a certified public accountant from Westbury and a director of EP Caine & Associates CPA in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
As for the withholdings, she estimated that based on 2019 withholding rates you would have been taxed $921.93. In other words, you were overtaxed just $3.07.
Here is what she says makes up that tax amount: FICA at 6.2 percent, or $131.34; Medicare at 1.45 percent, or $30.72; federal withholding at 22 percent, or $466.05; New York State withholding at 9.62 percent, or $203.79, and New York City withholding at 4.25 percent, or $90.03.
“The difference between the total amount that is required to be withheld and the total amount withheld is insignificant,” Markman said.
Sorry the answer wasn’t what you expected. For more information call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
DEAR CARRIE: My husband works at a hospital and is paid by the hour. Overtime is always given to the employees with the most seniority. Is that legal or should overtime be distributed equally across all employees in the same department?
DEAR OT: Unless the policy discriminates against certain employees on the basis of such things as race, gender, religion, nationality or age, it is probably legal. That's because absent that discrimination, or an employment or union contact, the company is free to determine its staffing needs.
That doesn’t mean that such a restrictive overtime policy makes sense. While workers who qualify might be thrilled, I imagine that others with less seniority who want to work overtime, like your husband, might feel demoralized. And given today’s tight labor market because of low unemployment, no company should be in the business of demoralizing any employees, especially its younger ones.
Your husband and his co-workers in a similar situation should talk to management about a more equitable system. Making the case in numbers could help change things.
In the meantime, whether your husband is on the approved overtime list or not, whenever he works more than 40 hours a week, he has to be paid an overtime rate of at least one and one-half times his regular hourly rate.
Go bit.ly/LongIslandOT for more on federal rules and overtime.