Burning Man as a Business

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.

Do you take tax deductions for your Burning Man expenses?

Yes, all of them (and I keep the receipts!)
11
23%
Only for capital losses (due to fire).
1
2%
Only for tickets, mileage, and a modest per diem.
1
2%
I'm bringing my accountant next year.
3
6%
No, I can't do that legally (yet).
31
66%
 
Total votes : 47

Burning Man as a Business

Postby Hoopes » Thu Sep 11, 2003 7:33 pm

Despite the "no commerce" rhetoric, it's clear that a number of burners are making money, breaking even, or at least recouping some of their expenses by engaging in Burning Man related business activities. This includes professional photographers who sell their images (giving BMorg a 10% cut if they're doing it legally), artists who sell their Burning Man art (post-burn and off-Playa, of course), and probably a number of folks who engage in business-related discussions in Black Rock City so that they can write off their travel costs as business expenses. Doesn't radical self-expression deserve tax cuts, too?
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Business Retreat

Postby L:Gringo » Thu Sep 11, 2003 8:46 pm

My wife and I bought a business a year ago. Guess where our corporate retreat was this year...

Heh, heh, heh.

--Taxes, shmaxes...

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captain bleeding-heart sez....

Postby clandyone » Fri Sep 12, 2003 12:37 am

The past couple years, I've been deducting every goddamn cent.

Where most of us have brains, the current administration has several dozen Whack-A-Mole games.

The latter has some bearing on the former...

I am participating in the process. I have no objection to paying taxes in principle... I like things like roads and libraries. However, I feel that Bush and Co have been SERIOUSLY abusing their right to spend our dough.

If the powers that be want to spend $87 BILLION of taxpayer money, above and beyond the untold billions that have already been spent, on what is essentially a snipe hunt, then I will surely do my damnedest to keep my hard-earned dollars out of their grasping little mitts.

Blecch.

(I really don't want to turn this thread onto a political squabble. if it becomes such, i'll start a new thread and take my medicine.)
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Postby elcircusmanotymboy » Tue Jan 20, 2004 11:56 am

Well gee generaly speaking the only people that can AFFORD to go to burningman are either working there for real(and getting a free ticket or paid even which is great!) or are in a tax bracket big enough to assume they have someone else do their taxes for them meaning they prolly write off everything legaly possible. ( yes I am conciously slightly exagerating, but not too much)

The event could happen despite all expenses for no more than $100/ticket.
Fewer subsidized large art pieces (but prolly more art since more artists could afford to attend) to the tune of up to 50k(aproximate cost of laser man two years ago),not so many open bar events for staff or self agrandizing parties, less glossy paper mailings,etc etc. The actual nuts and bolts budget (permit fees, insurence,outside venders like the porta potty guys or REMSA, essential paid staff on the ground) wouldn't have to be cut any just the ego budget.
Noone is getting rich off the event but it could be done cheaper making it more accessable for people making less than 30k a year. But who really cares eh? Ya'll got the money, ya'll get your little taste of bohemia and fantasy fufillment or idealistic ya yas out for a week. I apoligize for sounding snotty but if some of you wealthier burners really wanted to maintain the economic diversity of the "community" you could start your own local scholership funds and subsidize some (about 50%) of the ticket costs for less than wealthy burners (of your choosing) in your area. Do it any way you like,via essay, community sponsership or in exchange for yard work, only with a copy of their w2s or whatever, - i mean it is your money you decide.
Just a slightly differnet perspective from the other side of the class scale.
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Postby Ivy » Tue Jan 20, 2004 6:07 pm

Noone is getting rich off the event but it could be done cheaper making it more accessable for people making less than 30k a year


I make well below $30k/year and I get there fine.

You just have to figure out what your priorities are.
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Postby Chai Guy » Tue Jan 20, 2004 6:32 pm

Despite the "no commerce" rhetoric, it's clear that a number of burners are making money.."

If by burners you mean Larry Harvey and Co. then yes. If by Burners you mean the rest of us, umm.... no.

"...breaking even, or at least recouping some of their expenses by engaging in Burning Man related business activities"


Possibly, but I think most (95-99%) projects go into the red.


I make well below $30k/year and I get there fine.


Same here.
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Agree w/ Chai Guy

Postby Savior69 » Wed Jan 21, 2004 12:21 am

Where are all these people selling photos and art? I don't see it. I know our camp spends Thousands upon Thousands. Breaking evan w/ fund raisers and the like is possible, but usually someone spends big.
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Postby technopatra » Wed Jan 21, 2004 12:50 am

elcircusmanotymboy wrote:I apoligize for sounding snotty but if some of you wealthier burners really wanted to maintain the economic diversity of the "community" you could start your own local scholership funds and subsidize some (about 50%) of the ticket costs for less than wealthy burners (of your choosing) in your area. Do it any way you like,via essay, community sponsership or in exchange for yard work, only with a copy of their w2s or whatever, - i mean it is your money you decide.


This is a great idea, and not a new one. I know of several people who do this. The thing is, they don't go announcing it, so if you saw them driving a decent car with a Man sticker on it would you sneer rather than give them the benefit of the doubt?

And there are thousands of people who purposefully buy their tickets at the highest possible price - which, by making the cheaper tickets available for those in need, are subsidizing those who need it.

Charity is all around you - it just may not be visible from your perspective.

When you run in to people you decide are "wealthier" Burners you may want to cut a little slack - you never know who helped who around here.

p.s. nice to see you here, 'Mano.
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Postby ramen » Mon Mar 08, 2004 8:37 pm

I plan to sell my soul to the highest bidder this burn.

For sale: slightly used spirit, slightly corrupt but still sound, lots of integrity with plenty of mileage left on the higher centers.

Renovated recently, all etheric holes patched. Original owner! Full akashic records, references supplied upon demand.

Who'll gimme a glow-stick!
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Postby Chai Guy » Mon Mar 08, 2004 9:28 pm

I got your glow stick right here buddy!
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Postby actiongrl » Tue Mar 09, 2004 1:24 am

>not so many open bar events for staff or self agrandizing parties

Tym, ya know I love you, but...if some sort of that kind of appreciation wasn't shown toward volunteers, I bet you'd be here tearing that apart instead?[/i]
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Postby robotland » Tue Mar 09, 2004 6:16 am

This whole discussion represents what I go to Burning Man to AVOID. I sure as hell didn't BREAK EVEN last year- Maybe I'm doing this wrong.....
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Postby Badger » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:03 pm

This is a great idea, and not a new one. I know of several people who do this. The thing is, they don't go announcing it, so if you saw them driving a decent car with a Man sticker on it would you sneer rather than give them the benefit of the doubt?


I've sure had had my share of such experiences. Assumptions and the silliness that seems to come with a few folks who equate low wages and class positions as somehow translating into 'worthiness' to burn, 'worthiness' to express or 'worthiness' to create. It's easy enough to scoff at such sloberdonkeys but can get kinda old when it's me and quite a few others I know that end up asking ourselves "Is this the person I'm helping out by buying the highest tier ticket? Is this the person I'm collectively giving 200-300 hours per year of my volunteer efforts? I/we know that such asshats don't represent the large majority of people who attend the event but it can be a bit of a letdown when you see these knee-jerk behaviors.

And there are thousands of people who purposefully buy their tickets at the highest possible price - which, by making the cheaper tickets available for those in need, are subsidizing those who need it.

Charity is all around you - it just may not be visible from your perspective.

When you run in to people you decide are "wealthier" Burners you may want to cut a little slack - you never know who helped who around here.


Thanks for putting that out there Technapatra.
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Postby Miss Kate » Tue Mar 09, 2004 1:24 pm

I wish that we broke even, but we never do. Thing is, it’s worth it to us to scrimp and save all year to make the trip. And then it’s worth it to us to bust ass to pay off the bills that we skipped to make it there.

I suppose you do what you have to do.

I guess I just feel like it’s the most perfect playground, far, far away from home, and those who have a bundle of money, well, they’re just lucky that way. I’m lucky ‘cause I get to have a week long date with my husband, enjoy friends that we see once a year ~ dance and play dressup like nobodies business…never even thought of writing any of it off…
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Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:10 pm

Miss Kate wrote:never even thought of writing any of it off…
I've got to wonder how writing it off would pass an IRS audit. "Did you spend all 6 days in vital corporate activity?" I mean these are the people who wont let you depreciate a home office if you use it to stash coats for a house party in it. "This receipt for 2000 glow sticks. . ."
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Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:11 pm

Miss Kate wrote:never even thought of writing any of it off…
I've got to wonder how writing it off would pass an IRS audit. "Did you spend all 6 days in vital corporate activity?" I mean these are the people who wont let you depreciate a home office if you use it to stash coats for a house party in it. "This receipt for 2000 glow sticks. . ."
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Postby precipitate » Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:22 pm

> "Did you spend all 6 days in vital corporate activity?"

You don't have to spend all day, every day in corporate activity, and in
my experience it's never vital. You do have to have formal meetings
to discuss company business, though, on every day you write off.
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Postby Chai Guy » Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:25 pm

You do have to have formal meetings to discuss company business, though, on every day you write off.


And by "formal" do you mean "wearing pants"??
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Postby precipitate » Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:29 pm

No no no. Besides, that doesn't count as formal on the playa, silly.

Formal as in scheduled and mandatory for employees. Don't think there's
any rule against drinking at company meetings, though, as far as the
IRS is concerned.
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Postby stuart » Wed Mar 10, 2004 12:32 pm

if you buy gear that is related to your business activity then it would be deductable as a capital purchase. Also, if your business were art of any kind then you should be able to deduct some portion of your expenses as well, BM theoretically being an art festival.
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many, many, many ways

Postby bigpurple » Sat Mar 13, 2004 3:45 pm

Many of the expenses of BM could be tax deductible depending on your business. Even if you are just a 1099 independant contractor, but especially if you have incorporated. If fact, I'd wager that anyone who doesn't have ALL of thier income reported on a W-2 could find some legitimate deductible expenses.

The moral of this story? Start your own business. Educate yourself on tax law. For just about every US citizen, paying your taxes will be the single largest expense of your life.
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The cost of the TICKET?

Postby anticdevices » Mon Mar 15, 2004 8:22 am

elcircusmanotymboy wrote:The event could happen despite all expenses for no more than $100/ticket.


Uhhhhh... Ohhhhkay. Um, our experience was that the cost of the ticket came to around 20% of the cost of the trip. Of course, we're coming from half way across the country, and we don't otherwise camp. This year, with better advance planning & being able to re-use some equipment may increase the ratio a good bit - but I doubt it. If tickets are 33% of the cost of getting ourselves & equipment to & from Nevada we'd be pretty pleased. Most likely it'll stick at around 25% of the cost of the trip.

But shaving $200 off the cost of the trip (2 tickets) really wouldn't make a significant difference. Talk to the airlines & rental agencies about subsidizing & scholarships, that's where most of the cost is. Or better yet, employers, since simply getting the time seems to be as big a hurdle as cash.

I guess the point is that while saving $ on taxes or tickets is nice, the decision to go isn't based on whether you can save a couple hundred here or there. I'd be REALLY surprised if the population of artists significantly increased because tickets were $100 instead of $200 or $250.
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I sure miss the commerce free burning man

Postby arlowatson » Fri Jul 16, 2004 9:22 am

I long for the days where the money trade inside black rock was non-existant. The first couple times I joined in the creation of Black Rock City, there was nothing for sale, and I wasn't aware of anyone getting paid for their help in making the city. Today, I see the coffee and ice trade in the center of the city, and many folks get paid for helping out the community.

I'd like to see the coffee and ice sales moved to the outskirts of the city. Perhaps two or more such distrobution points would be required just past the last road, but I think that moving the money trade out of its current centrality would be worth it.

Is it possible to move the coffee and ice sales to just outside the city? I say "YES!" . Black Rock is a city that we build every year, isn't it? So why wouldn't we want to make a positive change?

When I first joined the Black Rock City community, I fell in love with the free spirit that we all shared. I hope to rejoin the city one day, but I feel like I would be irresponsible if I didn't attempt to make this positive change (and in my opinion necessary one).

I don't mean to put down your own burning man experience. Every year thousands of individuals continue to enjoy enlightening activities. I'm just sharing my own point of view.
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Postby Apollonaris Zeus » Fri Jul 16, 2004 9:34 am

I get my doctor to write a letter that I need to go to someplace to relax and get some phsycological rest or I'll have a serious nervous breakdown and I check into the Burning Man medical tent have my blood pressure and other simple tests have them write a report. Then I write of the cost of the ticket, gas and food to get in for the treatment.

It would be easier, if Harry would change the name just a bit to The Burning Man Sanitorium and Festival.

"...Gotta keep the loonies off the Grass..."

A II Z

PS- its actually a write-off because I'm a professional photographer.
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What are you....

Postby gilmore » Fri Jul 16, 2004 10:19 am

Rocko: Whata ya in for???

Bubba: Axe murder

Rocko: Whata ya in for???

Martha: Lying about a suspicious stock sale

Rocko: Whata ya in for???

Burner 1: Deducting a weeklong adventure at a no commerce zone as a business expense.

Burner 2: Me too, but I had a note from my doctor.....
Eat till you're tired, sleep till you're hungry
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