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And now for something completely different

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in Payroll Today

We know you’re struggling with your W-2s, which are due to employees and the Social Security Administration in a scant week. So, today we’re offering a little distraction—payroll and tax humor.

It really could be worse …

You say you haven’t seen the light of day in a few weeks? Well, if you were the government of Canada, your problems recently have been much, much worse. Canada, it seems, is having problems paying 80,000 or so government employees after it switched to a third-party payroll provider, from an in-house payroll operation.

Problem: Canada laid off almost 3,000 payroll professionals before the new system was ready to go. Some of the payday surprises include:

  • Overtime not being paid
  • Employees being underpaid, overpaid or not being paid at all
  • Deductions were miscalculated.

Predictably, customer service phone lines crashed due to call volume from pretty irate employees.

Canada will eventually get all of this untangled. And it’s made a good start by rehiring some of the payroll staff that it had let go. But instead of saving the Canadian government $70 million Canadian dollars, it’s going to cost it approximately $50 million Canadian dollars more.

Job well done, eh?

Zap this

Not content to keep its payroll tax havoc north of the border, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that an Everett, Wash., man who worked for a Canadian company that sells point-of-sale software pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

Called the Tax Zapper, the software allowed restaurants to underreport their sales and illegally lower their tax bills. The Zapper deleted all or some of a business’s cash transactions, and then reconciled the books to show accurate, but false, total income earned.

Who needs two sets of books anymore, anyway?

Adios, amigo

Divorces can be bitter. Exactly how bitter? Very, apparently. The Department of Justice announced that an Anchorage, Alaska, plastic surgeon was sentenced to 48 months in prison for wire fraud and tax evasion.

The charges stemmed from a scheme to conceal more than $5 million of assets in secret bank accounts in Panama and Costa Rica. The prying eyes the doctor sought to avoid: the IRS and his soon-to-be ex-wife.

According to the indictment and evidence introduced at his trial, shortly after his wife filed for divorce, he collected millions of dollars in marital assets and secretly drove from Tacoma, Wash., to Costa Rica. There, he opened two bank accounts into which he deposited more than $350,000 in cash and hid 1,000 ounces of gold in a safe deposit box. He then traveled to Panama where he opened an account under the name of a sham corporation and deposited another $4.6 million.

OK, now it’s time to get back to work.

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