Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Seth Godin
My Secret Project and the Bounty

I need your help.

I'm looking for three special people this summer to work on a secret project. No, I can't tell you what it is. Yes, I can tell you about the internships: Seth's Summer Intern Project.

Find me someone I successfully hire and you get $1,000 and the perverse satisfaction of knowing that you made a good match. Find me two and you get twice as much!

Seth is one of the smartest and most interesting people I know. If I were looking for an internship, I'd jump on this.

Seth, if anyone gets referred through me, please do not give me the money. Please donate it to the EFF, Creative Commons, the Metabrainz Foundation and OSI in equal parts.

Now for you tax wizzed out there. If this were to happen, is this a taxable event for me?


From my experience (I am no tax expert by any means, although I have had a similar experience while residing in Japan), this will not be a taxable event for you as long as you do not recieve the donation and then forward to the charity of choice. If Seth accepts your request above, he will just be providing you with the right to name the recipient of the money (or this is the arguement you need to make) - which is not taxable.

Problem here is that having a fact trail like this blog gives the tax authorties a stronger arguement to tax you! :-)

PS: If these entities were domiciled in Japan, then they would be taxed (assuming they are not one of the roughly 1200 "qualified" charities in Japan) on the donation. This is unfortunate.

Thanks, Joi.

If you get taxed, I'll pay it for you. How's that? But is that then another taxable event for you? Where's Zeno when you need him?

I appreciate the ping.

That looks fascinating. Wonder if I could swing it even though my web design/coding days are many years behind me...

In the US - and IANAL yet and I definitely don't know anything about .jp tax law - I don't think it's an income event for you, Joi, since you never receive the money and it could be qualified as a gift to you (though only getting in return for doing something makes that argument dicey). *However*, you are directing the income, so if your "not income" argument doesn't fly, are any of those organizations qualified 501(c)(3) in the US? You can check here: At a quick glance, all of the organizations you listed qualify, so even if it was an income-producing event for you, you should be able to deduct (given proper paperwork, of course) and not be taxed.

The official IRS pub on this issue (without getting into the Code and Regs):

PS - Last I checked, someone else paying taxes for you is taxable income, but that's a *really* hazy memory and mostly based on the general principle that "income is income from whatever source derived."

If Seth passes it straight on to them it should be okay.

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Seth's looking for an intern. the work - thats secret. don't worry its nothing illegal (i hope). My Secret Project and the Bounty I need your help. I'm looking for three special people this summer to work on a secret... Read More