[Noisebridge-discuss] 2010 taxes

Jared Dunne jareddunne at gmail.com
Thu Jan 13 19:55:54 UTC 2011

I think people are overthinking this.  The perceived value that Noisebridge
brings to the community and public are free for all, members or not.  The
value most of you feel is not monetary value, which is what the IRS cares
about.  Since there aren't fees for entrance to the space nor for events,
let alone member-discounts, there is no monetary value gained with
membership, leaving both starving and non-starving membership levels able to
deduct their entire dues as my first email outlines.  Things like voting
rights don't carry a monetary value since they can not be purchased by

Let's constrast Noisebridge with HackerDojo to illustrate my point.  (I
don't know if HackerDojo is a 501(c)(3) but for sake of comparison let's
pretend it is)  Since HackerDojo charges a day use fee and some of their
classes have member discounts, their dues provide a monetary value to
members.  This value would be annoying as hell to quantify depending on how
often individuals used the space, take classes, etc, probably leaving most
to not bother trying to deduct their dues.  Point being it's clear there is
a monetary "value" to membership at HackerDojo.  For example, if you
attended Hacker Dojo 5 times as a member avoiding the $10 entrance fee 5
times, then membership would have provided $50 in value to you.  Contrast
that to Noisebridge's lack of entrance fee nor class/meeting fees to see why
I claim that Noisebridge membership has no monetary value since everything
is free and open to all.

This is important to keep in mind during the consensus process since changes
that give monetary perks to members (like free shelves for members and
$5/month shelves to non-members for example) would start to cut into the
tax-deductibility of membership dues.

There are limits on deductions to consider but as long as your charitable
deductions are under 20% of your adjusted gross income, then you don't have
to worry about them.  Also, documenting contributions over $250 with written
receipts is important, but since dues are less than that they don't have
that record keeping requirement on them.

It's all in here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p526.pdf

Dr. Jesus-

If it was me, I would go ahead and deduct your dues in full as your
accountant suggested.

PS: I erroneously referenced Jacob's accountant instead of Dr. Jesus'
accountant in my first email.

On Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 10:40 AM, Sean Cusack <sean.p.cusack at gmail.com>wrote:

> Maybe the best way to do this is to say the "value" of Noisebridge is the
> starving hacker rate? If the IRS asks, you've got a great argument that
> $40/mo out of your $80/mo fee is deductible. Just say that the $80/mo
> membership has the same value as the $40/mo membership in terms of
> rights/responsibilities/value, so anything you give over $40/mo is therefore
> a proper donation.
> Sean
> On Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 10:28 AM, d p fenn <weasel at meer.net> wrote:
>> Le Jan 12, 2011 à 9:36 PM, Dr. Jesus a écrit :
>> > On Wed, Jan 12, 2011 at 9:27 PM, Jacob Appelbaum <jacob at appelbaum.net>
>> wrote:
>> >> On 01/12/2011 09:01 PM, Dr. Jesus wrote:
>> >>> Who's deducting their membership dues from their taxes?  My accountant
>> >>> says as long as I'm not receiving any value from my membership then I
>> >>> can deduct the full amount, but I don't want to find out the hard way
>> >>> that there's a catch I didn't think of.
>> >>
>> >> I do not believe this to be true unless any membership fees count.
>> >> Membership fees are not a donation.
>> >
>> > Deductibility seems to hinge on whether value is being obtained in
>> > exchange for the dues, not whether they are a donation.
>> the other route you could go is calling your membership to a professional
>> organization. dues or whatever for things like IEEE/ACM are deductable.
>> \p
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