Look at your lunch. Is it a bit disappointing? Look around your office. I bet there are no slides or yoga studios. Your journey into work, you paid for it, right? How vulgar. You are clearly not a Googler.
The perks of working at a Silicon Valley company have been the stuff of jealous legend for years. Airbnb offers a $2,000 (£1,300) holiday budget to all employees. In-office massages, free beer and complimentary haircuts are commonplace. Facebook will do your laundry for you. Google's bounteous canteens overflow with gratis grub: sushi, mussels and oysters feature regularly.
But, green-eyed Boots Meal Dealers, rejoice, for all this might be about to change. Spoilsports at the US internal revenue service have raised an objection. These perks, they believe, could constitute "fringe benefits" in the mould of old-school 1.0 perks such as a company car, on which employees should pay tax. In short, if your company's perks buffet works out at about $10,000 per annum in free food, free rides and table-tennis tutoring, then you need to pay tax on that $10,000.
It might not be a terrible thing. Those unbearably talented techies have become quite spoilt. I heard of a US-based engineer who kept getting into trouble at the SXSW festival for taking food from shops and walking out without paying – he had forgotten how the food-buying process worked. One UK-based Googler recently told me of chateaubriand being served at lunch, and a co-worker's annoyance at being made to queue for the chocolate fondue at the company's new central London offices. I asked if there would be uproar if the free food was withdrawn altogether. "Yes," came the instant reply.
A fiscal deep-clean of Silicon Valley's canteens would be bounteous. Dropbox offers its workers Whisky Friday happy hours. LinkedIn has a perma-stocked ice-cream freezer. Facebook's inhouse culinary team served sake-braised short ribs, teriyaki seitan and tempura yams this week, according to its Facebook page.
But predictions of impending Silicon Valley hunger strikes and employees chaining themselves to pinball machines are probably a little wide of the mark. In similar perk-busting cases, employers have settled with the tax office and compensated their workers for any unpaid back taxes they were forced to cough up. Poor old Google might have to dip into its $10bn profits.
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