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To do or Not to do... That is the question


Been spending a lot of time on here!
Feb 27, 2006
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Ok folks, I have a bit of a conundrum. Any input is welcome.

Since January, I have had literally NOTHING in the way of business. Zip zero NADA!
I have filed for two quarters now, $0 in taxes on my business. Almost every person I have talked to that wanted work, backed out at the last minute mostly because of gas prices.

My wife decided to have made for me a set leather and turquoise wrist bands or more accurately known as bow guards. Such bow guards can run into the thousands if lavishly made. But in this case they are going to be worth approx $400.00.

The man who will make these bow guards approached my wife the other day and asked her if I would be willing to barter the bow guards for a set of pictures of his other jewelry for a web site He makes jewelry for a living, and is fairly well known in the jewelry world for his Navajo work.He has seen my work before and seems to like it. He also has a bit of pull in the world of native jewelry makers and can drop my name to many others.

By doing this, it would be good exposure for my work, and open up other possibilities. The trade off is that I don’t get paid cash on this one. This presents the problem of paying an illegal and punitive tax in NM that taxes items made in exchange for business purposes.
They like to call it the ‘Compensating tax’, or the slang version is barter tax. This in the value of $400.

So here is the question.

If I take the job, I get bow guards, exposure to other possible jobs, exclusive work with a well known Navajo jewelry maker and my work actually published to some degree. But I would have to pay compensating tax, and get no money for the initial deal.

If I turn it down or ask for money, I probably in all likelihood wont get the work, no exposure, and the bow guards would have to be paid for in a separate manner. Plus my business possibly going out all together because of no exposure. But I need money comming in.

It may sound simple, but this is a toughie for me.
Personally barter deals have worked out well for me. Mostly because the client does end up telling all his friends. Try and make sure that he gets approximately 400 dollars worth of photography. If the work gets time consuming the deal can go down hill fast. Leather and turquoise should not get too technical.

Bummer about losing clients to gas prices. Do they think the price will go down? Maybe you could drive to them? Certainly something could be worked out?

I'm not sure of your question.

You're not asking us to condone an illegal action, are you?

[Many apologies for any misreading of your intent!]
Nah he is asking: should he barter and pay the tax, or ask for cash, or not do the job at all.

Barter the deal, use the money you wife would have paid for the bow thingie to pay the tax.. Unless you plan to spend a fortune for the supplies to do the job, you will be way ahead in money saved.

I would ask for a tag line on his web site ie photos by the mad russian or whatever.

If you have no business, contacts are what you need as much as sales. Im sorry I went through this for thirty years. It was my wife and daughter who complained that I was working too cheap or for barter.

A photographer dodging his tax burden, I can't imagine such a thing.

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