1. 24
  1. 4

    And it’s a tax-deductible charitable donation.

    It’s not! Or at least not totally, according to IRS Publication 526 (2016) p3:

    If you receive a benefit as a result of making a contribution to a qualified organization, you can deduct only the amount of your contribution that is more than the value of the benefit you re­ceive. Also see “Contributions From Which You Benefit under Contributions You Can’t Deduct”, later.

    If you pay more than fair market value to a qualified organization for goods or services, the excess may be a charitable contribution. For the excess amount to qualify, you must pay it with the intent to make a charitable contribution.

    You only have a deduction possible if you can get unlimited, unshaped nationwide 4G/LTE data for under $400/y, and that seems like a difficult price to beat.

    This still sounds like a great service from a great organization, though.

    I’d love to hear a report from anyone on Calyx/Sprint’s service who could talk about the bandwidth and latency they get in which metro area. A quick Google sounds quite positive, averaging 115 Mbit + 40 ms ping.

    1. 4

      There are apparently a whole bunch of these non-profit orgs now, some offer service as low as 10 USD/mo. (e.g., PCS for People, which may discriminate based on income), some others are just a bit more expensive (e.g., 4GCommunity is open for all, their 4G LTE gets as low as 250 USD per first year, 168 USD per year thereafter).

      And whilst I may agree on your deduction reasoning, Donald Trump circa 1989 with a 7 dollar donation to a Boy Scout org may beg to differ!

      1. 4

        Calyx’s lawyers almost certainly do handle this, though they don’t have the tax information on their website up front (and the linked article as a result gets this wrong). It’s very standard in U.S. charitable organizations that have membership tiers which come with benefits to send you a receipt that lists how much of your membership fee was a donation and how much went towards providing you the benefits. In practice the IRS doesn’t seem very strict on requiring it to really be “fair market value”, and many nonprofits essentially just calculate the cost of providing the benefits to you (so if you get a free mug, it’s whatever it cost them to get the printed mug, not what similar mugs sell for in a retail gift shop).

        I notice the Calyx membership page lets you decline one or more of the benefits, which is usually provided for that reason, so if they aren’t useful to you, you don’t have to receive them and have their value subtracted out of your tax-deductible donation.

      2. 2

        Can anyone who has a Calyx hotspot comment on the experience? I had a Clear Spot for several years, and it was perfect for remote work: slower 3G speeds, but no caps and decent coverage. It was a sad day when Sprint bought Clear and wound them down.

        Since then it’s been virtually impossible to find a slower no-cap data plan. I got a Karma Go, which was unlimited in the beginning, but they’ve since pulled the bait-and-switch to a capped 10GB plan at $75/month. Been pretty unhappy with it.

        1. 1

          Cory Doctorow has a pretty loud voice… Will the Calyx Institute be able to keep up with demand? Their latest “Annual Report” is from 2012, but other than that, it looks good. They appear (in 2012) to be well staffed, well funded, and they have “internet famous” people on their board.