Frequently Asked Questions about Time Banking
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What is Time Banking? (8 minutes)
This is an 8 minute educational clip from a recent PBS special that features our friends, the Hour Exchange in Portland, Maine:
How do I join the Time Bank?
You can begin the application process by clicking on the "JOIN The Time Bank!" button on our Time Bank page. If you don't like the internet, stop into one of our offices during office hours and our staff will be happy to help you.
How do I use the Time Bank Software?
We'll be providing scheduled trainings both online and at our offices in Lakeport and Clearlake. You'll be sent information if you're a member of our Thrive Lake County or Time Bank email list.
I need services but I’m worried I won’t be able to give back to the time bank in equal amount.
Ideally, time bank members will be able to contribute roughly the same number of time bank hours they use. However, it’s understood that some people will use more than they contribute, and vice versa. You will have use of the time bank regardless of whether you are current on the number of hours contributed versus those used.
I require a service that comes with a cost (for example equipment rental, gas). Who pays for the cost?
Although there is nothing to prevent the provider of the service from footing the cost, it is understood that in most cases the out of pocket expenses will be met by the user of the services. This will always be a matter for negotiation between the provider and the user.
What if I don’t have enough time dollars to pay for a needed service? For example, suppose I need five hours of pet care and I’ve only accumulated one time bank hour?
No problem. Because the time bank does not operate on a tit for tat basis, you are free to obtain five hours of service even though you only have one accumulated hour. The person providing the service will have five hours to spend against the entire bank of services and will not be disadvantaged in any way.
Why is time banking not taxed?
As a general rule, services are not considered taxable activity, unlike the sale of goods. This is one of the major reasons the time bank is limited to services and doesn’t support barter of goods, which is theoretically taxable. There also is not any implied contract between the two parties with time banking as there is with barter ("I'll do this for you if you do this for me") - another reason why time banking is not taxable.
Here’s an IRS Ruling on Time Banking, for those of you who are interested.
What are my responsibilities as a member?
Your main responsibility is to log in any hours you receive while using the time bank. Secondarily, you should do your best to offer as many services as possible so that your account will be as balanced as possible. Also, the more you can rely on the time bank for services you need, the healthier the bank will be. In a larger sense, your responsibility to the time bank is to volunteer for various time bank functions, such as serving on a steering committee and arranging for publicity and inter-membership communications.
What if I don’t have Internet access?
1) Come down to our Lakeport office or Clearlake office during office hours (see right side panel for address and times) and fill out a form. 2) You can also email or mail your information (who received the service, who gave the service, a description of the service, and number of hours) to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to one of our offices
Does the time bank provide criminal history checks?
The answer is no. There are various types of services, such as childcare, that might indicate the wisdom of criminal history background checks. However, doing this is the responsibility of the members and not the time bank’s.
Does the time bank provide liability insurance for service providers?
Again, the answer is no. If you think that the service you are requesting requires the provider to carry insurance (home construction for example), you’ll have to arrange that separately. However, this is something we are very seriously considering as we expand our operations this year.
Are accommodations made for the different value the marketplace places on various types of services?
The answer is no. All time bank hours are equal, lawyer and housecleaner alike. The time bank is based on the philosophy that marketplace values are largely arbitrary and there is no inherent difference in value between a doctor’s hour and a childcare worker’s hour.
Do I include travel time in my “time hours” charged?
If you are going to travel more than 1/2 hour, it would make sense to be compensated for that time (as well as for the gas). However, all travel is negotiable between the giver and the receiver of a service.
Do I have to add my address and other personal information in my time bank profile?
Only add what you feel you need to add so people can connect with you. Remember, the more open you are with others, the more they will be open (and trust) you.