Business, Career, Personal finance, Small business

Tracking Down a Payment

I remember being on a New York subway train in the fall of 2001. The doors of the train burst open at the World Trade Center stop. People rushed into the subway car bringing a gush of wind. They filled every space. As the doors closed, a sense of urgency filled the compartment, and conversations buzzed. I turned to a lady who had found a seat. Her face seemed frozen and emotionless. “What’s going on,” I asked. She told me a plane had hit one of the twin towers.

She ran out the building and saw a ball of fire coming from the tower she escaped. A friend was with her at first. She told her friend, “Stop looking at the building.” She tried to pull her friend along as she ran to safety, but her friend was too mesmerized by the fiery spectacle and paralyzed with fear. The woman had to leave her friend behind.

I watched her as she told the story and realized her face was masked with horror and not the lack of emotion I originally thought. It was as if I could see the blaze of fire in her eyes. It wasn’t the flaming bodies she saw plummeting from the building that terrified her. No, instead it was: “I don’t have a job. How am I going to get paid?”

Contacting the Appropriate Authorities

Fortunately, events, such as the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, haven’t occurred often in the U.S, but other events such as natural disasters and an unstable economic climate are just as tragic. These events have plagued  business communities with bankruptcies, the closings and even corruption.

Are you still waiting for payment for the work you’ve performed?

After confronting your employer about the payment to no avail, try contacting your local government. Visit your state’s labor department; you can do this in person or online. Either way, request paperwork that will let you file a claim. You could also file a claim with the court.

Filing a claim will help when you file your taxes because it shows the IRS you tried to track down the debt. It will justify your reasons for deducting the amount on your 1040 form on line 21, which is used for other income. You can take this deduction as long as the amount you’re trying to recoup is included in the total income earned for that year. For example, as long as that amount shows up as part of the income on your W-2, which is like  an employer’s acknowledgement the money was earned.

Avoid Delinquent Payments

Take steps to avoid this whole dilemma to begin with by doing the following:
*Check out who you’re dealing with by calling the Better Business Bureau to find out whether any complaints were made and find out about any issues with payment histories.

*Negotiate and establish the terms of payment in a formal contract and make sure it addresses how it plans to pay your wages if an unfortunate event arises.

*Request a down payment or a retainer.

*Schedule payments.

*Keep a log of the payments you received.

*Follow up on a bill that’s owed.

Get a feel for the workplace by asking yourself:

*Is this a positive environment?

*Are the people productive?

*Is it an ethical business?

*Does the employer or owner often communicate with the employees about the activities of the business?

Events that are out of your control occur so stay aware of the changes taking place at work, within its culture and the nation’s economic climate to make sure you don’t experience the unpleasant circumstance of not receiving your wages.

Photo Credit: AmbroMaggie Smith 

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