Policy Bits ~ 3 Things to Know & Watch This WeekPolicy Bits61216
June 6 – 12, 2016
~ Karly Malpiede Andrus

 

What Should the “Sharing Economy” Really Be Called?

  • The Pew Research Center survey on the new digital economy revealed that 73% of Americans are unfamiliar with the “sharing economy”. More curiously, 40% of those that had heard of the “sharing economy” emphasized the ‘sharing’ component while ignoring the economy piece. For many this is a misnomer, the industries it describes are not sharing anything, they are profit-making companies striving to harness the economic returns on underutilized assets like a spare room. Perhaps ‘crowd-based capitalism’ or ‘platform economy’ would be more appropriate. http://goo.gl/7q0Vt3
  • Many have a vested interest in shared spaces and the economic benefits they bring. Additionally, as the sharing economy, or whatever you find most appropriate to describe it, creates more individuals and families reliant on the “gig economy” we will have to tackle the realities that come with independent contractors, i.e. no health benefits, no workers compensation and generally low pay that does not come if one does not work, meaning no sick days or time off for family emergencies. As such this emerging topic is relevant to our work and the overall affordable housing arena.

 

The Sharing Economy and the Tax Code Don’t Get Along

  • The sharing economy has brought us trendy and useful services such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb but the US tax code has not caught up with the prevalence of the new gig economy. Many workers fail to file their taxes all together and when they do they often pay too much, they also risk audits because they don’t know they can deduct certain expenses or they don’t have sufficient documentation to support those deductions. The IRS rules don’t account for the legal gray area between “employee” and “independent contractor”. Such classifications save businesses money through reduced benefits and tax withholdings while often leaving working class individuals and families to pick up the tax burden for this growing segment of the economy. https://goo.gl/XXh1qK
  • Although it’s innovation and convenience are praised the reality of the gig economy can be harsh for those working in it; who are denied health benefits, workers compensation, Social Security and Medicare benefits, all of which will end up on the doll for taxpayers should we not find a more equitable manner to assess these costs now.

 

Open Source Circular Economy Days: June 9-13, 2016 https://oscedays.org/

  • What is Open Source Circular Economy? Open source is a successful collaboration method for developing software, hardware and design. It is based on transparent development, and the open sharing of files and solutions. Circular economy is the concept of a truly sustainable economy that works without waste, saves resources and is in synergy with the biosphere. Rather than seeing emissions, byproducts or unwanted goods as ‘waste’, in the circular economy they become raw material, nutrients for a new production cycle. During the Open Source Circular Economy Days they will take a holistic approach to understanding how different systems can interact, get a grip on challenges we face and share inspiration and experience widely to start building an open source circular economy
  • This international effort shows how thinking outside the box and a focus on sustainability can result in more utilization of underutilized resources, similar to the work in the sharing economy. There is also a direct connect to our work in that Denver is one of the cities hosting such a convening, it will be June 9th at The Alliance Center; https://oscedays.org/denver-2016/