- Days left

Merrill Lynch: Pay it back, baby?

President Barack Obama called it "shameful." Senator Christopher Dodd says he knows what we're all thinking: "this infuriates the American people, and rightly so." He follows that statement up with a demand (well, sorta): he'll use "every possible legal means" to get the Wall Street bonuses back; especially those $4 billion paid out by Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, shortly before handing the reins over to Bank of America.

I have to confess I am torn. While I am a bit outraged at having my tax money used for bonuses (I'm far more outraged at other things, like using my tax money to produce high fructose corn syrup, but that's an entirely separate rant), I'm also sympathetic with the bankers. Wait! Before you throw up all over your computer monitor, imagine being in their shoes: they work insane hours and are frequently subjected to scandalous treatment all year, giving up life, family and sanity at the service of the almighty deal.

When I worked at Merrill Lynch, a friend in the M&A department spent her Sunday nights consoling the analysts, who she'd find crying at the copy machine, wishing they could go see their recently widowed mother in Brooklyn, afraid they'd lose their jobs if they did. I am not kidding. One classmate was given a tongue-lashing for trying to spend Fourth of July with his dying dad. It may seem obscene to you, the money these people make, but the bonuses are sacred, considered the compensation for laying your life down to the Gods of Finance.

That Thain would put his career on the line to pay out bonuses to the faithful is, while unwise, also an entirely selfless act, a kind of fist-pump to his long-suffering crew. I do not believe in that lifestyle any more. But for those who do; for those who serve the few at the expense of the many; the greatest cost is suffered in solitude, with their families and sanity. I do not want their money back. I would, however, like to keep my soul, so I'll not weep for my life as an investment banker. Godspeed, Merrill Lynch, and next time, try just treating your employees well and paying them fairly and we can skip the presidential beration.

Learn about investing from the comfort of your own home.

Portfolio Basics

Take the first steps to building your portfolio.

View Course »

Investment Strategies

Learn the strategies you need to build a winning portfolio

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Do The Math: Understanding Your Tax Refund

For most people, tax is collected by an employer at a rate that estimates your tax for the year. Your actual earnings and the deductions that you?re allowed to claim might cause you to pay too much tax, which leads the Internal Revenue Service to issue you a refund. "The idea behind a tax refund is quite simple," says James Windsor, a certified public accountant from Ann Arbor, Michigan. "When you pay more tax than you owe, the Internal Revenue Service returns the overpayment as your refund."

5 Tax Tips for Single Moms

If you?re a single mom filing your taxes, make use of tax credits and deductions that can help reduce your taxable income and reduce the amount of tax you pay. A number of strategies, credits and deductions can be used to reduce taxable income, and in some cases, allow tax refunds even if you didn?t pay in any taxes. When you use TurboTax, we?ll ask simple questions and handle these calculations for you.

5 Tax Tips for Single Parents

Filing taxes as a single parent requires coordination between you and your ex-spouse or partner. Usually the custodial parent claims the child as a dependent, but there are exceptions. A single parent is allowed to claim applicable deductions and exemptions for each qualifying child. Even though you claim your child as a dependent, she may still have to file her own tax return if she has income, such as from an after-school job.

Affordable Care Act Decoded

The health care reform law known as the Affordable Care Act may directly affect your tax liability. Many taxpayers are familiar with the requirement that most Americans either carry health insurance or pay a tax penalty. But that's just one provision, and knowing what else is in the law can help you avoid surprises come tax time.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum