Value of labor?

So last year (and this year already) I did a couple projects for local non-profits and instead of scaling the project down to fit their limited budget, I did the project full out, charged less than normal and treated the difference between the value of the work and the actual payment I received as an in-kind-donation. As much as possible, I want the projects I work on for ALL clients to look their best, and I’ll pick my spots and walk the walk when it comes to taking one for the team. (I don’t do this with everyone, only local groups I feel deserve it, match it with what they are doing effort wise, and whose cause I’m strongly behind).

I’m the first to admit H&B has never been a financially or business savvy endeavor . . . (I’ll pause here to let a few folks who just fell off their chair laughing hysterically to re-calibrate themselves) . . . but I kind of assumed that an “in-kind-donation” to a 501c3 non-profit organization would mean that the value of that donated labor would come into play as a benefit when I did my annual taxes.

I was expecting to see my gross adjusted income to be lowered by the amount of in-kind-labor donation. Kind of a no-brainer I thought.

Err, wrong.

As I have been made to understand it, a cash donation is indeed worthy of lowering your taxable income, as is pawning off physical stuff you’ve got in the basement and no longer use and giving to Goodwill . . . but an in-kind-labor donation is worth absolutely nothing when it comes to providing a benefit on your taxes. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

So, you can be a $200 an hour billing insurance exec or suburban strip maul developer or gizmo-gadget schlockster or whatever the hell it is that people do that brings in that kind of do-re-mi, and then shove a lil of that money over to a non profit and lower your taxes. No problem. Thanks for the trickle down. 

But we apparently cannot expect any value to be placed on the honest labor of an in-kind-donation and provide the same benefits to people’s work. What the funky? “Whose in charge and how can I replace them with some of my friends?” (There’s always an opportunity to reference Billy Bragg lyrics)

Now, I knew I was living within a system that at every turn clearly favors cash, insider influence, and really doesn’t give a darn about labor (ever wonder why the newspaper has an entire business section, but not even a single labor page?) but today I’m feeling a bit like Opie fucking Taylor meets Mookie from Do The Right Thing, and every day understanding more and more the allure of living off the grid as much as possible.

Today’s bitter truth brought to you by Ole Man McCloud. Take it all with a grain of salt or a generous pour, it’s like water off a duck’s back in these parts, but we can’t help noticing the discrepancy of it all.

Back to the regularly scheduled program of optimism, tempered idealism, and enthusiastic get-up and go.


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