Taxe Exempt Expenses & the Idea of Cohousing Expenses
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 2010 16:54:03 -0800 (PST)

The discussion about the 1120 and 1120-H forms and taxes has been bothering me all day, as it has on other days, and I finally figured out why.

For one, the 1120 and the 1120-H are only relevant to determine tax- exempt income. Period. They do not require extensive angst over what is cohousing and what isn't. An accountant who handles real estate taxes will know what is exempt from taxes and can help you set up books that track those expenses.

A Vice President for Administration at my college once said that the hardest part of budget discussions was convincing people to spend and earn money without regard to whether it was tax-exempt or not. If an expense is necessary and desirable, it is necessary and desirable.

"Paying taxes is a good thing. It means you earned money. Figuring out how to fill out a form is my job. I do it quietly in my office and in the lawyer's office. Other than knowing that I'm doing it correctly, no one else even needs to discuss this. The college has much more important things to do."

The creeping concept that comes out in these discussions is that somehow facilities maintenance is not cohousing and that some definitive and important distinction has to be made between facilities maintenance and cohousing. Social activities are cohousing and buildings are not. Some communities even have separate condo fees for social activities. I think this is a false opposition and one that is not good for cohousing communities.

The book that started cohousing in the US is subtitled: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves. Housing = Residential Buildings + the people who need to live in them + the activities that the buildings encourage and enable.

Cohousing communities manage housing differently. Our housing is differently designed. The values that determine our decisions about housing are different. Our housing is managed by the community, not an all powerful board.

All those housing-related concerns are as vital and determinative of cohousing as meals, child care, and watching the Super Bowl together.

Sharon Villines
"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Albert Einstein

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