I attended some workshops on matters economic. One, on “the underground antieconomy” was an uneducational polemic that I left early. Another, on emerging post-revolution start-from-scratch economic systems, was cancelled because the instructor was apparently on some sort of Orange Alert blacklist and was detained at the airport (expect to see more of this sort of thing).
Another seminar I attended was about community currencies. These are paper money systems that exist alongside the familiar greenbacks. There are versions of this going on all over the place, and there have been attempts to get this sort of thing going for decades.
I was paying special attention to find out whether this sort of thing was a possible way to participate in a flexible, currency-based economy, without engaging in taxable activity. I didn’t think it was likely, but thought I’d pay some attention just in case.
The instructor was one of the organizers of Berkeley’s “BREAD” alternative currency, which had a five-year run but ultimately failed.
The long and the short of it was that I walked away without much excitement for the local currency concept (it doesn’t seem to offer many advantages over government money, and is at a great disadvantage competing against the effective government monopoly). And as a tax dodge, it’s a non-starter.
The IRS doesn’t even want you to get away with untaxed barter “income” — they’re certainly not going to decide that barter that’s mediated through some sort of notes or coupons is exempt (their guide on taxable income also includes sections on “kickbacks,” “illegal income,” and “pulitzer, Nobel and similar prizes” — they think of everything).