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I work in the IT/development sector in the United States. I recently did some consulting work for a client for a fixed fee. While successful, I did go over my budget and was planning on eating the cost myself. However, the client graciously agreed to help offset the costs by offering me a discount on the services that they provide, which I personally am in need of.

How should I represent this on the invoice I send the client? Should I represent this on the invoice at all? If so, how would I indicate that the payment would not be in cash? The services I would consume would be for personal use, not part of my business.

  • Only done this for donations: bill the full amount, then as a separate transaction, I would donate the earnings back. I don't know how it would be done in this situation though. – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA May 22 '14 at 15:48
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Bill the full amount.

Accept the discount as payment terms.

For example, you bill $500. Client offers $100 in services discounts + $400 cash. Accept that payment.

The invoice should not reflect how the client is paying. However, the receipt for payment may. Similar to how you'd bill $X amount but offer a 10% discount for cash... the payment receipt would show the discount, not the invoice.

If you don't customarily create receipts, do so for situations such as this so the client can show they've paid and you have a record of what was accepted as payment (should they fail to provide the discount).


In situations where the discount is for a personal item or service unrelated to your business, I believe they should be separate. The same way your business can't pay for your groceries directly - you can't accept a personal discount on behalf of the business. Therefore your business has nothing to do with the discount they are offering. It would equate to a "kickback". Imagine if you had an employee in the same position... what would you advise? Would your business lower an invoice so an employee could get a personal discount somewhere? Most likely no.

  1. Pay for the discounted service they are offering out of your pocket.... leave the business out of it, would be my advice.

  2. The other option, is your business accepts the discounted service and pays for it... then you pay your business for the service. You essentially buy the discount from your business.

Ultimately, if it's a personal item/service you should personally be paying for the service/item. If the business merely acts as a middleman, I believe that's fine. But be aware, I am not an accountant or tax attorney.

  • Does it matter that the discounts are for personal use, not something that my consulting business would use? – jmort253 Jun 22 '14 at 5:36
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    Well, in that case I believe they are separate. The same way your business can't pay for your groceries directly - you can't accept a personal discount on behalf of the business. Therefore the business has nothing to do with the discount they are offering. It would equate to a "kickback". Imagine if you had an employee in the same position.. what would you advise? Would the business lower an invoice so your employee could get a personal discount somewhere? – Scott Jun 22 '14 at 5:44
  • Pay for the discounted service they are offering out of your pocket.... leave the business out of it, would be my advice. – Scott Jun 22 '14 at 5:46
  • The other option, is the business accepts the discounted service and pays for it.. then you pay the business for the service. – Scott Jun 22 '14 at 5:49
  • If you put that up voted comment in your answer, I'll mark it as the accepted answer. That definitely sounds logical/reasonable. – jmort253 Jun 22 '14 at 5:58
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Don't put this on your invoice at all. The offered discount has nothing to do with the work you've already done. It is a separate transaction, most especially because you intend to take up on that discount for personal use.

  • If it weren't for personal use, would your answer be different? Let's say, for instance, the client offered me free hosting for a year? Thanks. – jmort253 May 23 '14 at 1:13

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