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Time Initiative of Maine

Mixing Time and Money: Policy

 

This policy clarifies the use of hours, dollars, and goods in exchanges, offers, and requests.

Hours

Hours (time credits) are the medium of exchange among members of T.I.ME.  Hours used (time out) represent services received from the T.I.ME community; hours received (time in) represent services provided to the community. The more services exchanged, the more vital the currency becomes, regardless of the actual balance in the member's account. In other words, economic power comes in circulation, not accumulation, of credits. The most surprising thing about time credits is that they are limitless in abundance, and it takes a little getting used to. Members always have the ability to use the currency at will regardless of the balance in their account; there must also be an understanding of the limits of capacity of neighbors, their location, and their willingness to meet other's needs. What is most valuable is your reputation and your attitude--not the numbers. Timebank members have been known to go to great lengths to help other members, in some cases.

A core value of timebanking is that each member’s time is valued equally.  

Negative balance:  Members do not need to maintain a positive balance of hours.

Bonus hours: An exchange should reflect the actual time the member spends performing the service.  This may include time spent for travel or preparation.  A member must not give extra time as an incentive or bonus. However,...

Donation of hours:  A member may give hours to another member, organizational member, and to various funds in the T.I.ME account offers or the Community Fund.

Community service hours:  A member may receive hours from the T.I.ME account for service provided to a non-member organization or neighbor. See ad HERE. However, members may not solicit help from other members for a nonmember; instead, they should inform the nonmember how to join and ask for help themselves. This policy is in place to protect our members from nonmembers they do not know and that have not been vetted by T.I.ME as part of the application process.

Multi-way exchanges:  A coordinator may record an exchange involving multiple parties, in the case of classes or group projects.  For example, if a member does an hour of preparation and then teaches a one-hour class to four other members, the four students will each be debited one hour and the teacher will receive two hours.  The extra two hours are a gift to the community and go to the Community Fund, unless a venue is provided by a host organization; in this case, the host organization receives the extra time credits. On the other hand, if the teacher does five hours of preparation for the one hour class, the teacher will receive six hours and the four students will each give one hour.  The other two hours are a gift from the community and come from the Community Fund.

Dollars

Correlating dollars and hours:  The IRS has ruled that barter transactions are taxable because a dollar value can be assigned to the exchange.  In contrast, the IRS has ruled that timebank exchanges are not taxable because no dollar value can be assigned to the exchange.  To avoid jeopardizing our tax-exempt status, members must not relate dollars to hours.  For example, a member should not offer something for “2 hours or $20.”

Reimbursement: When a member incurs an expense to perform a service, the member should be reimbursed for the expense by the receiver, and these arrangements are best made clear before the exchange.  Examples include gas for a trip, ingredients for a dish, and parts for a repair.  The member being reimbursed should not be given nor accept a bonus or tip, should make no monetary profit, and should provide receipts if possible. Be clear, honest, and prompt when dealing with cash money; misunderstandings can damage trust, our ultimate goal. Establishing integrity is the endeavor of every timebanker.

Professional service offers:  Some members provide services for hours that they also provide professionally for dollars, and we appreciate anything they are willing to provide for time credits.  Examples include plumbing, massage, consulting, counseling, and repair.  Such members may choose to offer their services for a period of time for hours and the remainder for dollars. For example a member may offer 2 hours of massage for time credits and $30 per hour thereafter. Receiving members should not expect the same levels of scheduling and availability as in the cash economy.

Business Discounts

In some cases, area businesses may choose to simply offer a percentage discount for goods or services to members, either in a physical location or online. These discounts are not recorded in the software. However, receiving members may make a gift of their choosing in hours to the business account as a thank-you donation.

Dollars and exchanges:  Only hours may be exchanged in T.I.ME.  Any transaction performed for dollars is outside of T.I.ME.  A member may post an offer to provide a service for dollars or goods in the Miscellaneous “For Sale” category (like a classified ad in a newspaper), for networking purposes. Just as the newspaper does not participate in a transaction for the goods or services advertised in its classified ad, T.I.ME does not participate in a transaction for a dollar-based offer on its website.

Goods

Goods may be exchanged for hours, but may not be sold for a set “price” in hours.

Exchange of goods :  Members may offer or request goods to be exchanged for hours.  The receiver (not the giver) of the goods will determine the number of hours for the exchange. The owner of the goods must decide whether to offer the goods for time credits as a donation, or use the "for sale" category to sell the items for cash money in an outside transaction--not both time credits and money. Again, time credits should not be "negotiated" or related to cash in any way.

Goods and services in one exchange: Sometimes T.I.ME asks members to provide a combination of goods and services. Examples include making baked goods for a bake sale or bringing a dish for a potluck. In such cases, values may simplified to one or two hours--for example, an hour for a potluck dish.

Questions?

If you are not sure of how to record or phrase an exchange, help is just a click away! If you look at the top right of the blue bar above, you will see an "envelope" icon. When you click, you can use a drop-down list of categories to help us sort your question. A coordinator will answer your question as soon as possible!