Baronger's Scribblings

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Blog Busking

A violin player sits on the corner playing his music. Pedestrians pass by, some stopping to appreciate the tune. At his feet is his open violin case. A few coins have been tossed in. The song goes on, but payment for it is not expected. The player knows this, yet he plays on the public street. No price for admission, but please leave a little token of your appreciation. He has given you a moment of happiness, knowing that most won't return the favour.

So are bloggers the electronic equivalent of buskers when it comes to their tip jars. They are more akin to someone on a speaker's circuit. Unable to afford the hall their ancient equivalent would be a speaker on a soapbox, with a hat laid out for money. Unless bloggers make their sites, subscription access only they will be playing on a public street.

So is the money a gift or is it income? That is the question the tax professor is asking. If we follow the busking model it is clearly income, and should be reported. The very act of putting a tip jar in the template is the equivalent of leaving out an open instrument case or an overturned hat. A performance is being put on in the hope that some in the audience will tip a little extra over the free admission charge. I'm pretty sure that like a good busker they will not claim that they are merely begging for free gifts.

A tip is income in exchange for an appreciated service, a gift is given just because; and often in pity, when given to someone on a street corner.

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