Wednesday, March 8, 2017

On receipt

I thought of an analogy for people who donate their books to the library and ask for a receipt. The other day in this space I was getting rather worked up over the donation receipts we give at the library I work at. I found that the pure and generous act of freely donating things for the benefit of the library is turned on its head by the donation receipt, and the gift is made into a transaction.

So picture this:

It is your birthday.

Happy birthday!

A casual friend, or maybe even just a warm acquaintance, comes to you with a little wrapped parcel. "I heard it was your birthday." They say. "And I thought I'd get you a little something."

You are touched. You open it up at their urging. Inside it really is a trifle, but it is so nice that they thought of you. You don't get many gifts any more and you're moved by the simple gesture. "Thank you so much!" You cry out, filled with warmth.

"You're welcome!" They say, moved in their own way by how touched you are. "Now will you just sign here that you received this gift? I'd like a record of this. Also, put down your email address. I think I can get something like a hundred shopper points for every one of these I give as a gift."

You're not so touched anymore, are you?

And so though I understand the reasoning, I am opposed to the tax deductible charitable gift. Yes, as a people we want to encourage charity, even, in a way, to subsidize it. But I say let's just let charity be charity and not a loophole, a scheme, or a prudent management tool.

But what do I know? I hardly donate anything. I mean, other than this blog, my great open gift to the world, for which I expect no remuneration. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it today. Please remember to sign my reader's receipt before you head off to check the weather. I need it for tax purposes. Thank you.

I have read this,

Signature: _____________________________________________________

Date: ___/___/______ 


  1. Duh'-oh, i can't figure out how to fill out your form! Yes, I've read it. Yes, your art is the greatest donation that the world could possibly ask for!

  2. Gosh, thanks! I think we can consider this a sufficient receipt as is. Do you need a receipt for your receipt?

  3. Ummm.. Yes, i mean No. Can't i just use your previous response as a reciept? Aaaah!!!

    1. I know this is only barely relevant but wanted to share that I worked today and a lady wanted receipts for copies. We have a receipt book. Its dates are presented to be filled in as __/__/19___!

      You can use my previous response as a receipt, but I'm not sure the IRS will accept it as valid. I suggest filling out form 29682 for receipt of receipt, which you will find on the clerkmanifesto documentation page or by going to your local post office.

    2. Wait, the 20th Century receipts are still okay 2 use? Okay, thank you 4 your patience.
      Gracious, that wind is just wild outside!

    3. I cleverly cross out the part that says "19" and write "2017". This makes it okay. I resent the lady asking for a receipt anyway.

      Oh, did the wind come down the Mississippi? Watch out for snow next then.


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