Friday, November 5, 2010

Science turnover continues at a pretty aggressive pace. My voice is definitely not used to doing all this talking all day long. We are making good progress, and I am set to depart next Wednesday. I’ll most likely have to spend at least one night in McMurdo before I catch a “17” to Christchurch. There are only a few of the winter crew left here, with gradual departures happening as days pass. We are forecast to have a pretty gnarly storm this weekend, but hopefully it will be done here (and not relocate to McMurdo) by Wednesday. I’m supposed to get my performance evaluation/bonus recommendation this afternoon, which will be interesting. It’s too bad that lump sum bonus gets slapped with higher taxes than regular salary, but it’s also annoying that coming all the way to Antarctica doesn’t mean you get out of kissing cheddar goodbye to taxes in the first place.

One of the things we did yesterday was to do the pre-summer leveling of one of the magnetometers. I put in a request for the vault entrance to get extended upward, to counteract drifting, last summer, so hopefully they will get to it this year. It makes it a lot longer process with that much more snow to displace before being able to access the vault to adjust the instrument. This is definitely one of those “rites of passage” that introduce new techs to work out in the field.

"Without Knowledge, Skill cannot be focused. Without Skill, Strength cannot be brought to bear and without Strength, Knowledge may not be applied."
~Alexander the Great's Chief Physician


Dan said...

Hi Ethan, long time reader first time poster. Just FYI your bonus isn't ultimately taxed at a higher rate than your regular salary. While taxes are withheld initially at a higher rate on that bonus, ultimately it is taxed just as if it was added on to your regular salary. That is, there is no difference in taxes ultimately paid at tax time whether you have a $67k reg salary and a $3k bonus vs whether you have a $70k reg salary and zero bonus. Just thought you might be interested.

Dan said...

P.S. Why no post on the details of your intended travels after leaving McMurdo?

EthanG said...

Hmm, I'd always heard lump sum payments (performance bonuse, hiring bonuses, etc.) were more aggressively taxed than normal pay. If not, cool beans!

Travel plans: I've just left my travel plans mysterious to keep folks guessing about what comes next, for what it's worth. After McMurdo is of course New Zealand, but I'm not sure exactly how much time I'll have there or what vacation-like stuff I'll get to do after taking care of business getting the last of my unnecessary gear mailed home from the Antarctic Center. I will say that I will be completing a circumnavigation, including my 7th continent, but at a much lower latitude than is possible here at Pole. Details to follow.

Dan said...

Right on, look forward to the trip reveal.

Re: supplemental payments - most people are in the 25% marginal tax bracket. That is, for each additional dollar you earn, you pay 25 cents in federal tax (regardless of whether that extra dollar was an increase in your regular salary, or was some other kind of supplemental bonus).

In a normal paycheck, say a monthly one, the tax withheld is lower than 25%, because the payroll software knows it is a regular recurring check and therefore can approximate your full year salary (by multiplying by 12). Thus it withholds the first tax bracket (10%) on the first 1/12th of the amount of the 10% bracket income setting, 15% on the next group, etc.

However when you have a supplemental payment, it's assumed that this is on top of all your regular earnings, and thus they withhold at 25% on the whole payment - because they assume this supplemental payment will be added on to your total salary, and thus will likely be in the 25% marginal tax bracket.

Thus, while it seems like you keep less at the time of a supplemental payment than if it was part of your regular recurring check, it ultimately works out to be the same.

Hope that clears it up some.

Becky said...

Where ever you go, I'm sure it will be warm and sunny. And you will have fun before you're back in the States. Good luck with the weather and safe flights all around!
PS-say hey to anyone I might know at MacTown if you happen to see them.

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