Groups. Subsidiaries. Conglomerates. Amalgamation. Brain explosion.
Let’s have a quiz. Are the following excerpts about UPMC from a Post-Gazette article or an article from the satirical news site The Onion:
- But UPMC itself? “We don’t have employees,” Mr. Pietragallo said.
- Mr. Wood said he sees no contradiction when UPMC claims it employs 55,000 people in marketing and business materials — and no one in court.
- He did not know which subsidiary employed him nor UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff.
Of course they’re from the Post-Gazette because this is about UPMC and it seems lately UPMC sees the border of Ridiculous and says, “Let’s just step over that line and head fully into the Territory of ABSOLUTE BONKERS whose capital city is Loophole Heaven.”
As a refresher, UPMC is being sued by the City of Pittsburgh to have its charitable organization status revoked. This means they would no longer be exempt from property and wage taxes. UPMC is now claiming that since it technically has no employees, it cannot be sued for wage taxes. No wages. No wage taxes. No lawsuit. Magic! [throws confetti]
UPMC has clearly been protecting itself from such a lawsuit for years in that it seems to indeed pay all employees through one of its 37 subsidiaries — even their corporate employees who have no association with any specific hospital. As one UPMC corporate-employed reader put it, “My badge says ‘UPMC Corporate Services,’ but my paystub says Presby.”
That person does not work at UPMC Presby, but his paystub says he’s paid by that subsidiary, certainly lending support to UPMC’s claim it has no real employees — just 55,000 people scattered around 37 subsidiaries and therefore, the city’s lawsuit should be thrown out.
I assume the entirety of corporate upper-management at UPMC walks around in shirts that say, “Keep Calm and Loophole On.”
I get this is how the corporate world operates, but in this case UPMC is being beyond absurd to the point that it is almost insulting to the residents of the city of Pittsburgh and the employees of their 37 subsidiaries, of which Jeffrey Romoff doesn’t even know which is issuing his seven-figure paycheck, apparently.
Here’s why it’s insulting and absurd. Here’s a snapshot from the I-990 form via Guidestar.org that “UPMC Group” filed in 2012 which showed a reported income of $7.7 billion:
How can UPMC claim to have zero employees and that their widely self-reported 55,000 number is just a “marketing number,” when they officially filed with the Internal Revenue Service claiming they employ 52,000 as a group?
0 = 52,000?
Is this new math? Did they forget to regroup? Carry the billion? Solve for X where X = “How the hell can we get ourselves out of this mess?”
You can have zero employees … or you can have 55,000 employees. You cannot have BOTH zero and 55,000 employees and then just choose which number suits you best for certain circumstances. I mean loopholes are great and all, but at some point, you’re just trying to defy the laws of mathematics and possibly physics and for all I know, gravity.
I’m not a corporate accountant. I’m not a lawyer. I’m a Pittsburgher. And as a Pittsburgher and a human with a brain in her head, I am qualified to tell you that this is farcical and insulting and it will only serve to generate even greater ill-will toward UPMC than currently exists among the public who already imagine UPMC as King Kong squashing any puny entity that dares approach its territory.
Who knows what will hold up in the court of law, but in the court of public opinion, this “we have no employees” defense will not stand. It will serve only to anger, because this is how we non-accountant, non-lawyer Burghers are looking at it:
That or, “I actually have no hands. It’s all a mirage.”
Stop this nonsense and get to work proving you’re a charity, UPMC. Because if you really are, this creative legal maneuvering wouldn’t even be necessary.
Math is hard. The truth is easy.