08/18/2012, Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu
Dear Mr. Walwick: thank you for the advice. I think we will have an issue here as my business seems to be booming. Yesterday, after two hours of portrait photography with 51 men from the Jonn Frum village at Sulfur Bay, I returned to Tenaya with a kayak loaded with baskets, ceremonial feathers, woven mats and kava root. We will take the kava root to shore where some local boys will chew it, mix it with water, strain through an old T-shirt, and serve to a group of us yachties so I will just charge the kava to advertising.
Your firm will also need to do some research for us. As I told you, a large percentage of my income has come from the John Frum village. I am not sure how familiar you are with this belief (Google it) but it is the dominate religion on Tanna. Some call it a cargo cult. They believe the people of Tanna are spiritually connected to the people of the United States and that someday the riches of America will come to Tanna. They still raise the American flag, the Marine Corps and Navy flags and the Red Cross flag (most sacred) which were given to their grandfathers by American troops during World War II in appreciation of the help the people of Tanna gave the Allies.
Because of this very special relationship and prophesy, I assume the IRS has some special tax free/free trade agreement with the John Frum religion. In addition, perhaps government grants for equipment and money are available? If so, we will happily arrange receipt and distribution. Finally, when invoicing us for your time, please convert the amount due to woven baskets as that will make payment easier and faster.
Thank you again for all you help and advice.
08/18/2012, Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu
Dear Client Thomsen: Appears that your photography business has taken off and you have quite a bit of gross income to report; bartering for goods or services is the same as collecting cash. I am sure you can provide fair values for the items you traded for so you can report that as gross income. The IRS may still view this is a hobby, however, if your income does start to exceed your expenses, well, you are just going to have to report it on your tax return. By the way, what is 40 chockos worth these days...?
Also, since the income is earned outside the US, you would be able to claim the foreign earned income exclusion. Further, I suspect you are also reporting this income and filing tax returns in the country(s) where you are performing these photographer services. Oh, and if the exclusion does not work out, you would be allowed to take the foreign tax credit for any double taxed income (bananas, papayas, et al).
Hmm, what did you trade with the Vanuatu Gov't to pay your taxes? I am sure the IRS will accept that as a "same as cash" payment...
08/13/2012, Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu
Message to our accounting firm: Hello Mr. Walwick, I need some tax advice for our 2012 return. As you know I have invested in good camera equipment and software and photo printers, but you had said it is hard to write off all our sailing travel around the world as a business loss for James Thomsen Photography since I had no income to show for my photography. Well, things have changed and I have sold more than 50 photos this year. One was a framed print to my brother for $10.
Over the past couple of weeks I have sold more than 50 photo prints on the remote islands of Aneityum and Tanna in the South Pacific country of Vanuatu. Most were for passport size photos required for the local soccer teams to compete in the Vanuatu National games. I have also sold a number of family portraits and prints of children.
So far I have received more than 20 kilograms of bananas, 28 grapefruits, 36 papaya, 40 chockos, 10 kilos of snake beans, a couple of dozen eggs and some handwoven baskets. The photos of the village Chief I gave as a gift, so I guess that will be charged to marketing.
08/12/2012, Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu
Party on Tenaya with Lori Lynn and 15 local girls!
Aneityum, Vanuatu 20 14â.38S 169 46â.66E
The kind people of the villages surrounding Anelcauhat Bay have captured our hearts. We arrived two weeks ago, at this southernmost island of Vanuatu, with an album filled with pictures of children we took last year. The lady in the bank said to give it to Seralyne as the little girl on the cover was her granddaughter. Seralyne was thrilled. A friendship was born.
July 30 is Independence Day. The first prime minister said, "Small is beautiful. Peace is powerful. Respect is honourable and our traditional sense of community life is both wise and practical." Among other rights, their constitution guarantees freedom of religion and on the shores of this large bay are five different churches. The people live in harmony with nature and each other. Their lives are simple. Each family has a garden, chickens and pigs. They eat what they grow. Their homes are built of woven pandanus leaves and have earthen floors covered in coconut and pandanus mats. Some cook over an open fire, others have gas burners and propane tanks. Most people have mobile phones and a few have televisions that run on solar power or generators. The school has a computer and the bank has a big satellite dish which allows them online access.
The Independence Day celebration began on Friday with football games for the men and volleyball games for the women all weekend long. People from all over the island came to Anelcauhat to watch and participate. Jim took more than 4000 photos. Each night we cleaned up the best in Lightroom and printed them out on the little Epson 4x6 printer we carry on board.
Each day a crowd would gather around our freshly distributed prints. Hardly anyone has pictures of themselves or their loved ones so these were a big deal. We were so happy to give something back to the people who welcomed us so kindly.
07/23/2012, Aneityum, Vanuatu
The passage from Opua, NZ to Noumea, New Caledonia was mostly easy and uneventful. Just the way we like them! We headed due north for 5 days to clear two lows forming in the west, then west for two days, then north for one.
While moving slowly outside the reef waiting for daylight I watched the full harvest moon set in the early morning dawn. Just as it dipped below the horizon it produced a green flash!
Nothing broke on the passage and our new sails worked really well. All the repairs held. How nice it was for the worrying prop sounds to be gone. One night the electric winch on portside sprang to life all on its own, again, but Jim was right there to throw the sheet off. Good thing he's got a supply of switches. It's probably time to replace these Lewmars with Harkens that don't have holes in the covers.
We got stuck, once more, at Port Moselle Marina in Noumea. Free wifi, unlimited hot water for showers and a wonderful daily market filled with fresh local fruit and veggies make it difficult to leave. Because New Caledonia is a French Overseas Territory with fresh baguettes, delicious wine and cheese, and those marvelous pastries, it's nearly impossible to toss off those dock lines. Our excuse? Waiting for the enhanced tradewinds to mellow out and make the trip over to Vanuatu more pleasant. Lingering through July 14, Bastille Day, just made sense.
We left July 15 for an overnighter to Lifou in the Loyalty Islands. Are we glad we stopped! A pod of bottlenose dolphins met us in the bay and escorted us into the picturesque anchorage surrounded by cave-riddled cliffs. Because the island is limestone, there is little runoff so the water incredibly clear as you can see in the picture. The snorkeling was delightful!
Another overnighter brought us to Aneityum, Vanuatu a couple of days ago. A break in the usual southeasterly trades let us sail across on a northerly, very pleasant indeed. Itâs been raining since we arrived so haven't unloaded the kayak yet - maybe this afternoon.