I hired a contractor to do some work, the work is complete and I got a bill.
The amount is $800. On the invoice at the bottom they wrote in ink make
check payable to "john smith", the owner. Not the name of the company.
I guess they are doing this to avoid taxes.
The issue is, I would like to make the check out to the business's name as
this work involved a permit and was done over a dispute with a neighbor so I
want a record incase there are any further legal issues between me and my
neighbor. Should I just make the check out to the companies business or to
Hmm. A couple of ways to go on this.
You could call him and say that if he wants this to be off the books,
then offer me a substantial discount.
or, (and I'd tend to do this for the reasons you cited)
You could call him and just let him know that you don't feel
comfortable doing this off the books because of permitting and other
legal reasons, and let him know you'll be sending the check in the
And I agree, because avoiding paying his fair share of income taxes
means the hohorable tax payers have to pay more than their fair share.
I think anyone stupid enough to either brag about their cheating on
taxes or who asks for payment in a way which makes you suspect he is
doing so.....deserves any "dissing" he gets.
It might not just be taxes though, perhaps he's got judgements against
his business for not paying bills and is trying to avoid having your
payment grabbed for those.
Care to extrapolate beyond reason any more, or are you done? Hell,
the guy could be a mass murderer and he'll be using the money to fund
terrorism! Police! Police!
We're talking about a business arrangement. I am not in charge of
running anyone else's life other than my own. I don't want to be your
nanny, your mother, your guardian, your judge and jury, or anything
else. I expect to be treated squarely, and I'll do the same with
you. I expect you to talk to me. If you have special requests, let
me know what they are beforehand. If you mess with me, I'll smack you
down. I'm very good at that.
I do my due diligence before I hire someone. I'll know before I sign
anything if there are judgments and other complaints. I don't guess
as to someone's motivation and how they handle their finances. I
simply protect my own interests. I'm very good at that, too.
Some may want to play cop. That's fine. They're free to handle their
affairs any way they want. If I don't like the arrangement, I won't
BTW, I've never met an "honorable" tax payer. Every single one I've
ever met has felt that they are paying too much in taxes. Haven't met
one that decided they weren't getting taxed enough and sent extra
money in to make up the difference. That's what an honorable tax
payer would do, right?
If you want to feel you're not paying any more in taxes than you have
to, you don't go running around beating up on little guys, you work
the proper channels and let your opinion be known on the _huge_
amounts of wasteful government spending. How many one-man-band
contractors would you need to bust to equal one hour of the war in
Iraq? How about tax breaks and windfall profits for Big Oil,
Halliburton (still love their briefcases), etc.?
No. Why would you say that? An honorable tax payer figures out what
his taxes are supposed to be, according to the rules, taking advantage
of tax breaks that apply to him, as the IRS encourages people to do,
and he pays that amount.
There is no need to pay more, although I think a few people do and I
know a lot of people leave money to the federal and state goverments
when they die.
IF you thought a particular tax break was immoral, that would be an
argument for not taking advantage of it, but for no special reason to
pay more than the properly figured amount is, that is not required to
There's a fine line between "properly figured amount" and fudging.
The odds that everyone would agree on what you considered proper are
rather slim. You makes your choices, you takes you lumps.
I frequent garage sales. I'm always looking for a bargain, and have
had at least my share of luck in finding them at garage sales. At a
recent one, I bought a Trek fully-suspended bike for my sister, a
Physical Training study course for my nephew, a Vornado fan for me,
and a few other things. The woman tallied it up and said $16. I was
a bit embarrassed by the low price and asked her if it was okay if I
gave her $20 to keep it simple. I knew that the people were trying to
raise some money, they had a few little kids running around, and the
$4 wasn't going to bankrupt me.
I have a friend that would have offered her 25 cents for all that
stuff if she'd asked for 50 cents. If she'd asked for a dime he would
have asked to have it for a nickel. He looks at things in a different
way. He's still a good person.
I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about people with proper
wills who leave money to the federal and state governments.
That's good of you, seriously.
I"m sure. But there is no set price on used merchandise, especially
at yard sales.
The tax rates aren't made up on the spur of a Sunday afternoon, and
while there are some areas where people who know the tax laws
disagree, in most cases they agree.
I used to get tv's off the street and fix them and sell them, all
B&W's iirc, for between 20 and 45 dollars. Hard to "make a profit" if
I had to buy the Samms notes or any parts. But it was fun too. I had
two kinds of customers, the kind that wouldn't pay what I asked no
matter how cheap I was, and the kind who didn't dicker. Because of
the first kind, I started quoting a price 5 dollars higher than what I
really wanted. This worked fine with the first kind of person, but
one time, after I helped a non-dickering guy take the tv to the
subway, I felt the need to give him back 5 dollars, and an explanation
of why I overcharged. I don't know what he thought of that.
I also learned to offer them only two tv's, of different prices. If I
offered 3, they couldn't decide. If they were the same price, they
couldn't decide. So often they bought nothing. When I learned to
offer only two, almost everyone who came over bought one.
The distinction you're missing is between tax *avoidance* and tax
*evasion*. If you feel you're paying too much in taxes, you can act
within the law to avoid taxes -- find legitimate deductions, change your
investment strategies, defer income, etc. That's all legal and
honorable conduct, it's obeying the letter and the spirit of the law.
Tax *evasion* is when you cross the line and commit fraud or other
crimes to avoid paying taxes. That's no longer legal or honorable, it
is willfully violating the letter and the spirit of the law.
email@example.com is Joshua Putnam
I'd make the check out to the company (especially if its listed on the
permit). Thats how I did it with our granite contractor in AZ. They wanted
the check 'personal' to get the cash right away because (I found out later)
the outfit was going out of business and they didn't want to mistakenly
leave any $$ for their creditors. In theory, if I hadn't paid "the company",
I believe there could have been 'creditors' come after me for a 'company'
bill not paid.
I don't like specifying these reasons. It implies that if you didn't
have permit issues, you'd cooperate in his tax evasion.
Even if you would cheat on your own taxes, you're only one person.
Why encourage it in other people, when there are millions of them?
That is, the effect on society is worse to encourage other people to
cheat or commit other wrongs, than it is to do so yourself in secret.
When one cheats in secret, he doesn't encourage other people to do so.
Right. If you shit in private, it's not shitting. There's way too
much of that "what you don't know won't hurt you" stuff going on in
The bottom line of what you are saying is that you don't want to feel
that anyone is paying less than their fair share of the tax - less
than what _you_ consider to be their fair share of the tax.
I'm not on this planet to impose my views and morals upon others.
There's also way too much of that stuff going on in the world.
The former yes, the latter no...what I _don't_ want (and a prime reason
as noted earlier for using the company name as opposed to individual) is
the deliberate underreporting of business income subject to
self-employment taxes, etc., which afaict would be the only reason to
care how the check was made out.
DPB, have you ever been at a BBQ and had a couple of beers and driven
yourself home? Did you stop at the police station and turn yourself
in? I'm sure you've had friends/kids have a couple and drive
themselves home. Do you alert the cops and give them the license
plate number? Have you ever exceeded the speed limit? Do you send
money to the traffic violations boys? Send money to the insurance
company since your rates should have gone up if you were caught? I
could go on, but you catch my drift. Let he who is without fault,
Wishing people would do the "right" thing (right thing in _your_ eyes)
is fine, trying to enforce your wishes is something else entirely.
You may be comfortable playing daddy to other adults, I'm not.
As I said from the beginning, I would not be happy about the
contractor surprising me with a request for payment to himself
personally. I like things to be spelled out up front. You can say
yes or no to the request. Just don't try to sell those actions as
being "for the good of the people", because that's not what it is at
all, and you know it.
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