Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the Northfield TimeBank (formerly Northfield Community Exchange):
1. What is a Time Bank?
The Northfield TimeBank allows members to exchange services or homemade goods without using money. When the Receiver records the exchange, the number of hours the service or goods represent are deducted from the Receiver’s account and credited to the Giver. This type of system is sometimes called a Community Exchange or LETS.
2. What information does the system keep track of?
The Northfield TimeBank records contact information about each member, their account balance, transaction history, and any offers to give or to receive goods or services. Members can search all of the active offers in the system so that they can initiate exchanges.
3. How are values determined?
Before performing a service, the Giver and Receiver negotiate the number of hours that the transaction represents. For services, this is the number of hours spent performing the service; for homemade goods, this is the number of hours spent making the goods.
4. Can Givers get reimbursed for their cash expenses?
Yes – above and beyond the service credit in hours, Givers can charge a fee in US dollars to cover their cash expenses, such as to purchase supplies or gasoline. Any dollar fee should be clearly stated in the offer description and again when setting up the exchange with each Receiver.
5. Are exchanges taxable?
In our opinion, no, because:
- Everyone’s time is valued equally; we are not setting a market value (in dollars) for any of the goods or services that are exchanged, and
- Exchange credits (hours) are not legal tender and do not have a guaranteed value.
However, you should consult a tax advisor if you have any questions about the taxable nature of an exchange.
6. Are members or offers checked or approved by the Northfield TimeBank?
No – just like classified advertisements in a newspaper, the Northfield TimeBank merely acts as an information distributor about potential exchanges. Members are responsible for performing their own due diligence before participating in an exchange. The Northfield TimeBank administrators reserve the right to remove from the system any offer that is deemed inappropriate.
7. Can non-members see offers or information about members?
8. What information can other members see about me?
Members can see your system username, real name, and email address. If you choose to supply a telephone number and/or a profile (text description), that information is also visible to members.
9. Are there any fees?
Yes – when you register, there is a one-time nonrefundable fee of 10 US dollars to help cover system setup and administration costs.
10. Are there any limits on account balances?
New members start with a credit of 25 hours as their initial account balance. Your account balance is not allowed to go below zero hours. There is no upper limit on your balance, but since the Northfield TimeBank cannot guarantee that you will be able to use any hours you accumulate (e.g. if the system becomes unavailable for some reason), members are encouraged to use their hours and not keep a balance above the initial account balance for very long.
In addition to the Frequently-Asked Questions, there are a few other details about how the Northfield TimeBank operates that you should be aware of before becoming a member:
- Members are encouraged to attend (and help organize!) occasional face-to-face meetings for members and prospective members to get to know each other.
- We expect members to treat each other fairly and kindly, as members of a shared community. Since the Northfield TImeBank is only acting as an information distributor, members are themselves responsible for enacting the exchanges and performing any necessary due diligence before an exhange or any follow-up with the other participant after the exchange has happened (such as handling a complaint or encouraging the Receiver to record the exchange in the system).
- Members are responsible for determining whether their exchanges have any tax consequences.
- At registration, you’ll need to supply (among other things) your real name, street address (not a PO box), and email address. All member information will be used only to administer the system; it will not be given or sold to others (unless forced by legal circumstances).
- Although the administrators of the Northfield TimeBank plan to make a good-faith effort to keep the system running, there is no guarantee that this will happen and members must understand that if the system becomes unavailable at any time (temporarily or permanently), they may not be able to use the system to view offers or record exchanges and therefore may not be able to use any accumulated credit hours. This is one reason we encourage members to not keep a balance above the initial account balance for very long. The one-time registration fee is nonrefundable even if the system becomes unavailable.
- Although this should rarely be necessary, members agree to allow the Northfield TimeBank system administrators to view or edit the information about themselves and their offers and transactions for the purposes of maintaining the system.
- The Northfield TimeBank administrators reserve the right to deactivate or remove from the system any offer that is deemed inappropriate. Administrators also reserve the right to deactivate the account of any member who is considered to be abusing the system (such as using the system for something other than its intended purpose or interfering with the ability of other members to use the system).
- If a member notifies the system administrator that they are leaving the system, we will deactivate their account and their offers. The member’s name and transaction history will be retained in the system to allow us to maintain our record of transactions and account balances.
If you have other questions about this exchange, please email the system