Little Women and the compassionate use of tax

By Trix Wilkins

It is the end of financial year and I have been thinking about Little Women and tax. Not tax avoidance or tax minimization – OK a bit about tax minimization, but specifically: what would the March sisters have done?


And as I was thinking about office supplies relevant to such a venture, it struck me that perhaps Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy might not have reduced their taxable income by buying more stuff. They might have given to worthier causes than the accumulation of things.

And that got me to thinking about some of the non-profits that might have been right up their alley…

(Disclaimer: I am not financially or otherwise benefiting from my mentioning these organizations, I simply think their avowed causes might have resonated with the characters in Little Women. I claim no knowledge as to tax deductibility regarding donations to these particular organizations. I am not a tax agent or tax lawyer and in no way affiliated with the IRS, ATO or any other tax-related organization.)

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg PIC
Picture courtesy of Project Gutenberg

Offers over 54,000 free eBooks amongst which you will find the world’s great literature, especially older works for which copyright has expired, digitized and diligently proofread with the help of thousands of volunteers.

Jo: Free books! She would’ve devoured this site. I think she would’ve volunteered too!

Laurie: Same as above. He might’ve also helped fund it.

Meg: Chatted with her husband John about the content of books.

John: Chatted with Meg about the financial viability of such a business.

Mr and Mrs March: Relished in this vast resource for the education of children.

Printed Matter

Printed Matter PIC
Photograph courtesy of Printed Matter

Dedicated to the dissemination, understanding and appreciation of artists’ books (as in “publications that have been conceived as artworks in their own right”). Has an open submission process for artists to submit their books, and hosts exhibitions of contemporary and historically significant books, talks, book launches and performances.

Amy: She would have loved the idea of her work in a book! She might have been encouraged to go on with her art seeing the work of other artists out there, not just the Masters of Europe.

Laurie: A general patron of the arts, I think this would also have resonated with him.

MMAD (Musicians Making A Difference)

Photograph courtesy of MMAD

I can’t help but think of Beth when I read their vision, “To see every young person have someone who believes in them and the opportunity to live their potential.”

MMAD is a grassroots charity that aims to change lives through music, dance and mentoring. They especially have a heart for those who have suffered emotional abuse, neglect and disadvantage, and hope not only to break negative cycles but empower people to make a difference within their community.

Beth: Love for music and compassion for people. I think she would have signed up to mentor. And she would have delighted in using her skill and passion to do so.

Laurie: Jo says he spends a great deal of money, but I think she would have approved of his spending on MMAD! And from the way he is so chuffed to have brought the neglected Nat to Plumfield as a young budding musician and his desire to be more involved, I think Laurie had it in him to mentor someone in music.

International Justice Mission

Picture courtesy of IJM

It’s no secret that the Alcotts were anti-slavery and thoroughly involved in the abolition movement in the US – and from Mr March’s volunteering in the army and Mrs March’s work among the poor, I think we can safely infer the March family would have been as tangled in the work to not only free slaves but have them live in dignity and safety.

According to IJM, the biggest problem among the poor is not their lack of money per se – it’s their vulnerability to violence. Slavery exists today: with millions of children and families forced to work for little or no pay in abusive and often violent conditions; vulnerable widows and orphans chased from their homes, leaving them destitute. IJM aims to protect such people from violence.

Jo: She would’ve joined this team. She might have become a lawyer just to do so, but more likely I think she would’ve wanted to be on the front line on the ground physically rescuing people and then writing accounts like LMA did in Hospital Sketches.

Beth: Beth would’ve come with Jo. Jo would’ve protested, but Beth would have wanted to be part of it.

Mr and Mrs March: Freeing slaves entirely suited to their core of being.

Meg: She would’ve taught her children to have compassion in practical ways.

Laurie: Would’ve shocked him to see the sort of work being done. But he would have gotten behind it financially. And maybe sequestered some of his grandfather’s ships in a smuggling cause.

This end of financial year, what are some of the causes you’ve found fitting for your dollar and you’d love to see thrive?

Author and book sale PIC

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