review new teams for Gratipay 157 #211

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whit537 opened this Issue May 28, 2015 · 35 comments

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@whit537
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whit537 commented May 28, 2015

Are these teams a good fit for Gratipay? How can these teams improve their application? What questions do you have for these teams?

@whit537 whit537 added the Review label May 28, 2015
@whit537
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whit537 commented May 28, 2015

Bcc: [encommuns, json-resume, simplytest-me, pillow, jshttp, devdocs, weblate, the-mountain-spirit]

Greetings!

You're receiving this email because you've applied for a new team on Gratipay. Thank you for applying!

In reviewing applications, we are primarily looking for whether you provide open work that is consistent with our mission and our brand values. By "open work" we mean that individuals can start contributing to your team's work without explicit permission from you, with a clear path to sharing in any revenue your team may generate.

While the wider Gratipay community does have a chance to comment publicly on your application, the final decision whether to accept or reject your application will come from Gratipay itself. Please expect a decision from us by next Thursday, June 4.

If you have questions about your application, feel free to reply privately to this email or comment publicly on GitHub.

Thanks again for your application! :-)

—Gratipay

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 4, 2015

I've approved all of these teams.

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 4, 2015

Bcc: [encommuns, json-resume, simplytest-me, pillow, jshttp, devdocs, weblate, the-mountain-spirit, kivy]

Greetings!

Thank you for applying for a Gratipay Team. We accept your application! :D

We started processing payments for you during today's payment cycle. If you have any questions or issues, please feel free to respond privately to this email or open a public GitHub ticket.

Thanks for joining Gratipay 2.0! :D

—Gratipay

@whit537 whit537 closed this Jun 4, 2015
@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 4, 2015

Welcome aboard! 💃

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 4, 2015

(158)

@dougwilson

Hi (jshttp here), thanks for the approval! I'm wondering, though: how do I access the team, for example, to add members?

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

@dougwilson Welcome aboard, and great question! We're still working on bringing back our payroll feature for adding members (gratipay/gratipay.com#3433). We want to make sure we do it in such a way that you're not caught unawares by any tax issues around having employees/contractors. Have you ever dealt with employees before?

@dougwilson

We're still working on bringing back our payroll feature for adding members (gratipay/gratipay.com#3433). We want to make sure we do it in such a way that you're not caught unawares by any tax issues around having employees/contractors.

Gotcha.

Have you ever dealt with employees before?

I have no desire to become an employer and withhold payroll taxes; I have had subcontracts before, though, which is fine. Would this mean, as an owner of a Gartipay team, I would be obligated to collect W-9 and SSNs from fellow team members (assuming they are even authorized to work in the U.S.)? I was under the assumption that Gratipay would function to make the distributions directly to the different members and each of us would be obligated to self-report our own income on our Schedule C; is this not the case?

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

[I]s this not the case?

@dougwilson The short answer is no, but the sausage still being made. 🐷

Would this mean, as an owner of a Gratipay team, I would be obligated to collect W-9 and SSNs from fellow team members (assuming they are even authorized to work in the U.S.)?

Our goal is to streamline this process for you. Our goal is to do for organizing a company what Stripe did for credit card processing, by developing a 90%-case-solution that is simultaneously simple and legal.

This is a third major topic that is coming to the fore, now that the dust is starting to settle on (1) our legal status as a payment processor (#192), and (2) our anti-money laundering (AML) program (#119). It is possible that Gratipay may end up turning you into an employer. We are moving slowly (i.e., we haven't brought the payroll feature back yet) to avoid surprising you with this fact: I'd much rather you find out now and be a little miffed, than find out after you've unwittingly paid a de facto employee thousands of dollars and be at serious risk. Over on #242, we're working to resolve the question for a specific case relative to Gratipay itself, and that will inform the direction we take from there.

I was under the assumption that Gratipay would function to make the distributions directly to the different members and each of us would be obligated to self-report our own income on our Schedule C

Let's say Company A uses jshttp and pays $100, and that gets split between 10 developers on the jshttp team. Are those 10 each independent contractors of Company A? Does Company A get ten invoices, one from each of them, for their portion of the $100 payment? It seems less strained to me to say that jshttp is itself a company (a legal entity), that receives $100 in income from Company A, and pays the 10 developers either as contractors, employees, or legal owners of the jshttp legal entity.

Currently in our new terms of service we say:

Team Owners, and not Gratipay, are responsible for compliance with all laws, as well as any taxes and withholding requirements, applicable to payments made to Team Members (whether through the Payroll feature or otherwise), including without limitation payroll tax, unemployment insurance, and worker compensation insurance payments. Team Owners are also responsible for providing any required tax and other documentation to employees, independent contractors, tax authorities, or any other person.

That covers Gratipay's butt, but puts a serious burden on you. We're trying to find a way to ease the burden, because that's a core part of the value we want to deliver, and #242 is our next step in that process.

@dougwilson

The #1 problem for me is that adding that as a burden would mean I would no longer have any time to contribute to the open source community, as all my spare time would suddenly be tied up with book keeping. It also doesn't seem to address the issue that under those terms, I would have to deny non-U.S. citizens from participating in my open source team.

@dougwilson

I would have to deny non-U.S. citizens from participating in my open source team.

Sorry, I mean people not authorized to work in the U.S.; foreign citizens who do the appropriate paperwork can be included, though it seems like a large barrier to them being able to become part of an open source team.

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

The #1 problem for me is that adding that as a burden would mean I would no longer have any time to contribute to the open source community, as all my spare time would suddenly be tied up with book keeping.

Yeah, no kidding. 😞

It also doesn't seem to address the issue that under those terms, I would have to deny non-U.S. citizens from participating in my open source team.

You can certainly have non-U.S. contractors, employees, and/or owners. No? Certainly doesn't make the book-keeping simpler ...

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

[F]oreign citizens who do the appropriate paperwork can be included, though it seems like a large barrier to them being able to become part of an open source team.

Yes, though if they do the paperwork once (per jurisdiction represented on Gratipay), then they can potentially participate in more than one team/company on Gratipay.

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

What I envision is that Gratipay could provide a simple-and-legal wrapper around forming an LLC and handling relationships with contractors, employees, and owners. LLC because it seems to be the best legal structure for taking on owners, which would probably be a simpler relationship than employment.

LLC + contractors + owners

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

My current understanding is that non-U.S. folks would need to register for an ITIN (Form W-7), which is a process but again it would be a one-time up-front thing. Then they could be owners of an LLC. I'm not sure whether an LLC needs any U.S. owners.

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

U.S. maybe isn't the ideal jurisdiction, and we should certainly accommodate any team that brings their own legal entity to us. I'm talking about a simplified Stripe-style "here's our simple solution to help you get started in a safe way."

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

(But really more Braintree-style, since they allow you to bring your own merchant account, instead of using one of their simple abstracted one-size-fits-all merchant accounts.)

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

it seems like a large barrier to them being able to become part of an open source team.

But that's not an adequate framing: they're becoming part of an economic entity, not just a coding collective. The hope here is that there will be a large economic incentive for them to jump through the initial hoops, because of the amount of work available on Gratipay.

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

We could make it less U.S.-centric by modeling it as "here are the jurisdictions I'm cleared to work/own in."

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

all my spare time would suddenly be tied up with book keeping.

The book keeping around foreign LLC owners is simple (though onerous): 35% withheld, paid quarterly. That's simple enough that Gratipay should be able to streamline it for you.

@dougwilson

So I see lots of talk about LLC. The LLC is not something that exists at the federal level, only at the state level in various forms. Would Gratipay help people only setup in a specific state, or any state? What about the requirement of having a "registered agent", who needs to be available at a specific address during business hours?

The hope here is that there will be a large economic incentive for them to jump through the initial hoops, because of the amount of work available on Gratipay.

Sure, but it basically means those who are part of the team who can't/won't do the paperwork are likelt o resent not getting any of the money the other members are. Perhaps they are a great contributor, but have legal issues with the U.S. and cannot establish the types of legal entities required to be authorized to work in the U.S. (this is the main reason it's "authorized to work in the U.S."--it's very possible to be denied).

@dougwilson

(P.S. good discussion here)

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

(P.S. good discussion here)

(Yeah, totally off-topic, but we're on a roll. :-)

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

So I see lots of talk about LLC.

Yes, because I believe it's the easiest structure for foreign owners.

Would Gratipay help people only setup in a specific state, or any state? What about the requirement of having a "registered agent", who needs to be available at a specific address during business hours?

For "company-in-a-box"? One state. Gratipay is the registered agent.

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

Sure, but it basically means those who are part of the team who can't/won't do the paperwork are likely to resent not getting any of the money the other members are. Perhaps they are a great contributor, but have legal issues with the U.S. and cannot establish the types of legal entities required to be authorized to work in the U.S. (this is the main reason it's "authorized to work in the U.S."--it's very possible to be denied).

Workaround would be handling them as a contractor instead of an owner (I don't think company-in-a-box [CIAB?] should handle employees, because I think ownership will be a simpler relation). We would implement guidelines and constraints around the difference between contractors and owners. E.g. contractors only get one-time payments (gratipay/gratipay.com#5) instead of access to indefinite weekly payroll.

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

My assumption there is that contractors don't need to be "authorized to work in the U.S." What's your understanding there?

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

Company as a Service? CaaS

@dougwilson

For "company-in-a-box"? One state. Gratipay is the registered agent.

Gotcha. I have previously been in FL, WY, and IN, and WY was the simplest legally, but harder from a personal perspective, especially since the RA had to be a resident of the state.

My assumption there is that contractors don't need to be "authorized to work in the U.S." What's your understanding there?

This is correct, because as a contractor, you are not paying an individual, but rather a company (who, perhaps, happens to be an individual ("sole proprietor" in U.S., perhaps)). If you are paying a "person", then it starts entering the gray area of employee vs contractor. In the past, the test I would apply to help ensure I was in compliance on that regard is "do I care if the person I'm paying is actually not doing anything but paying two subcontractors acting as that person?" if that's the case, then 1099-MISC is appropriate for distribution as far as I'm concerned.

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015

Picking up with this conversation over on #242 ...

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 6, 2015
@wimleers

It looks like the legal requirements for Gratipay 2.0 will have severe repercussions for the UX to say the least, and will in fact come with significant requirements for its users as well, and jurisdiction-specific requirements/complexities at that!
An unfortunate necessity, it seems.

I am particularly concerned that the U.S.-centricness (at least in these discussions) will mean that those elsewhere will be left in the cold — the Drupal community was one of the biggest users of Gittip/Gratipay 1.x, and its members are all over the world. But, of course, better to start with the jurisdiction that's closest to those of you working on Gratipay 2.0!

This discussion (and related ones) definitely are very interesting. Essentially, you're trying to take away as much of the administrative burden as possible. Good luck :)

(I'm just watching from the sidelines, read these issues as part of trying to understand what exactly I should/can do in response to the "Gratipay, Year Three" e-mail. It seems like a lot of work is left to be done. And AFAICT there's almost nothing the majority of us can/should do at the moment?)

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jun 23, 2015

@wimleers What's the perspective from Belgium? What's the legal framework for a Belgian company to collaborate with non-Belgian people? Do you have the same distinctions between owners, employees, and contractors? What are the particulars of those relationships in an international context, for a company domiciles in Belgium?

@wimleers

I'm afraid I don't know enough about the legal aspects of employment & payments in Belgium to answer that half as properly as it deserves to be answered. Sorry :(

@whit537
Member
whit537 commented Jul 9, 2015

the Drupal community was one of the biggest users of Gittip/Gratipay 1.x, and its members are all over the world

Roughly half of Gratipay 1.0 users were outside the U.S. Certainly the Drupal community contributed to this. In looking for strong identity providers, we've been asking specifically about global coverage. For as tiny as we are, Gratipay is still global.

It seems like a lot of work is left to be done. And AFAICT there's almost nothing the majority of us can/should do at the moment?

As far as user actions to take, the thing to do is to sign up for a Gratipay 2.0 team if you want to keep using Gratipay to receive money, though as you hint at and as has been identified elsewhere, Gratipay 2.0 is really alpha-quality right now. The theme of the next two months will be bringing it back up to beta quality (shedding our escrow in the process). Watch the Radar for weekly progress. Hopefully this autumn we can start to work on bringing back payroll, at which point Gratipay 2.0 will start to be generally useful again. It hurts to wait that long, but the time is past when we can play fast and loose. It's time to take the long view and build a solid foundation that will last for years to come.

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