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Bartering Is Back

Whether you have unwanted gifts that stores won’t take back or just want to get something in exchange for your unused possessions, the easiest path may be to barter them away.

Perhaps due to the economy, the age-old practice of trading goods and services is once again becoming popular, and swap-facilitating websites make it easy. Such sites bring together “buyers” and “sellers” for just about anything.

At BarterQuest and BarterBee, you accumulate points based on the value of items and services you want to trade and redeem them for your “purchases.” Other sites, such as SwapThing, charge per transaction (usually $1 or so). You can also find a “barter” link on many local Craigslist sites.

Some bartering Web sites, such as BarterBucks and BizXChange, are geared toward small business owners and usually require paid memberships. They pair, for instance, an accountant in need of plumbing repairs with a local plumber wanting some tax work. There’s even a bartering trade group—the International Reciprocal Trade Association.

Keep in mind that these websites usually don’t screen users. Also, be aware that the IRS requires that you report and pay taxes on income from bartering. But businesses may usually deduct the costs incurred to perform bartered work.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.


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