It will be natural to sing the praises of our elected leadership after they have hammered out their deal to raise taxes in order to avert the crisis. To recall that raising taxes is ever always the solution will be just as easy as to forget to honor the unsung heroes of the fiscal cliff – the software people that maintain America’s payroll systems.
Such is the lot of America’s Payrollers that they often do not know what parameters to enter into their systems until after the last possible moment. They know they must make payroll – or else. So they enter the worst case scenario into their systems, generate the checks, and know all the while that less than understanding co-worker complaints await them.
Before they generate the checks they must test their system with the worst case parameters. Usually this work is done at the last minute, i.e., over the holiday season. There will be no pats on the back for this.
Unfortunately for our silent heroes this is not the end. After a few more weeks of political showmanship there will be a new deal with new tax rates and income brackets. All payroll systems will have to be modified and tested yet again to support the new parameters. Previous checks will have to be adjusted and corrected in short order. Mistakes and manual corrections will have to be made and remade. Nobody will know where they stand for months.
Eventually – perhaps by the summer – all of the trials and tribulations for our heroes of payroll will be squared away. Perhaps with the new revenue the debt ceiling debate will also be postponed to the summer. Of course no debt ceiling debate could be complete without a discussion about raising additional revenue. Such a debate might last through the next holiday season but there will be nothing to worry about. America’s Payrollers will be on the job to make sure the true fundamentals of our economy are strong.
This January when we all regard our paystubs (cliffstubs?) and smell that initial smell of the Austerity Bomb let us remember to not hold America’s Payrollers in low regard. Let us instead consider their plight as it is a side effect of our political stalemate. It is a good bet that next holiday season America’s Payrollers will be on tax parameter watch (again).
Therefore America please drink a New Years toast to your Payrollers. May their compiles always work. May their production runs not have to be redone.