Does the fact that February has an extra day this year qualify as a windfall? Sure, it means that you have more time to procrastinate about getting that month-end report done for your boss, and you have an extra day before you'll be forced to admit that you failed to keep your New Year's resolution to lose 10 pounds by March 1 (unless you can lose 9 1/2 pounds in one day, that is).
But what about getting an extra day's pay this month? It's not necessarily going to happen, and even if it does, don't fall into the trap of thinking you're getting something for nothing.
"It doesn't have anything to do with the calendar, it has to do with accounting," said Joseph Fox, senior partner at the Twin Cities-based North Star Resource Group.
"If you get paid an annual salary -- if you get paid, say, $60,000 a year -- you're going to get paid $60,000 whether the year has 365 days or 385 days," he said. "If you get paid an hourly wage, then, yes, you will get an extra day's pay. But you're also going to have to work an extra day to earn it, so I'd hardly call it a windfall."
There's one very tightly defined group that will come out ahead because of the leap year math: people for whom the extra day's pay puts them over the point at which the federal government caps the Social Security deduction. That number changes yearly. For 2012, it's $110,100.
"For someone who's right on the precipice of the FICA cutoff, there would be a benefit," Fox said. "But it's arbitrary. It has to do with where someone decides to draw a line in the sand."
As a result, it's not one of those issues that tax experts spend a lot of time analyzing. At least, not when they're at work.
"It's like asking someone: If you own a home on White Bear Lake and the water level recedes 200 feet, do you have more shoreline or less," he said. "It's one of those questions that's fun to bring up over a 12-pack."
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