Art Feed

In a tough economy, many folks turn to bartering. The system works well for many payors, sellers and tax collectors. Yep, tax collectors. The United Kingdom's Acceptance in Lieu program lets its taxpayers settle their tax bills with art instead of cash. The art-for-tax program is administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council on behalf of the British government. Citizens who owe inheritance tax can donate items deemed to be of historical or artistic importance. Last year, the U.K. revenue office accepted almost $30 million in artwork through the program. The latest instance is a British citizen who paid... Read more →

Yesterday in my post about Taxing Pennsylvania's arts and culture, I only semi-facetiously commented that I'd pay to see rowdy, and ever-vocal, Philadelphia NFL and NHL fans attending an opera. Well it looks like the Eagles and Flyers fans caught the train to the Big Apple for the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera. The New York Times reports there was "harsh booing" for the director of the Met's new production of Puccini's "Tosca" during curtain calls Monday night. Of course, if I had paid $1,250 for a ticket -- which could have brought the City of Philadelphia $100 in... Read more →

Museums tend to be nonprofits. As such, they don't distribute any surplus funds to owners or shareholders, but rather use the money to help pursue the organization's goals. And by getting IRS approval for their nonprofit status, the groups are tax exempt. Taxes, however, can be collected from their visitors. That's exactly what Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to do. After a budget fight, the Keystone State's legislators reached an accord that would extend the state's 6 percent sales tax to arts and cultural institutions, including theaters and museums. Movie houses and sporting events would not be taxed. The extra money from... Read more →

What with my estate tax post last week, I know you're probably thinking, "What's this morbid kick Kay is on of late?" But this isn't about what you might think. Death & Taxes is what Jess Bachman calls his annual budgetary art exercise. Billed as "the federal government in six square feet," Bachman's poster provides a graphical breakdown of the United States' federal budget. In 2x3 feet, Bachman displays national priorities as sought in the president's fiscal budget. Bachman boils down the raw data to give us taxpayers, who ultimately foot the bills for the areas represented in the poster,... Read more →

A couple of tax evasion cases involving famous folk have popped up today. First the case with the U.S. connection. The father of actress Michelle Williams has agreed to return to the United States to face tax evasion charges. Larry Williams, a prominent stock market trader, had been fighting extradition from Australia since he was arrested by police there in 2006 when he flew to Sydney for a speaking tour in Australia and New Zealand. The IRS wants to question the 65-year-old Virgin Islands resident, who has been free on bail, about a possible $1.5 million in unpaid taxes from... Read more →

IRS: Art investigator

It's true. The Internal Revenue Service is dabbling in high culture. OK. It's actually investigating tax evasion scams tied to donations to Southern California museums. But doesn't it buff up the agency's image a bit to have it connected with the chichi art world? According to a story (here) in today's New York Times: "Criminal enforcement agents of the Internal Revenue Service, the Interior Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement searched the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana and the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, as well... Read more →

The fine art of social policy taxation

Using taxes to shape social policy is nothing new. People have been doing just that in every country with every conceivable type of political system as soon as the nation's governing structure was put in place. But here in America, the practice has become almost an art form. A surreal art form in many cases, to be sure, but definitely a colorful one. If you look over the enrollment of this "art" school, you'll see it represents students of many and diverse genres. I can definitely see Munch's The Scream -- Ohhhh, the horror of our growing deficit! -- facing... Read more →

An artful look at death and taxes

Knowledge of how your taxes are spent is essential to being a responsible citizen. But that doesn't mean the acquisition of that knowledge has to be boring. That's the philosophy of Jess Bachman, creator of "Death and Taxes," the representational graph (below) of the federal discretionary budget. I ran across an earlier version of his visual budget last year (noted here), and was thrilled to learn that Bachman has updated it and that he plans to keep doing so. Bachman is quick to point out the use of the word discretionary. It describes that portion of the budget that is... Read more →

Year end donations and deductions

In 2005, charities received a record $260 billion in donations, with most of that -- 76 cents of every $1 collected -- coming from individuals. Even more noteworthy, it was not the wealthiest among us doing the giving. Rather, the bulk of individual donations came from households with incomes of less than $100,000. Those numbers come from Giving USA Foundation, which also reports that while disaster relief effort accounted for a portion of the 2005 donations (latest complete data), contributors also supported more than 1.4 million charities that benefited causes near and dear to their hearts. As the end of... Read more →

Cigarettes for Cézanne

Well, not exactly. But when January rolls around, smokers in the greater Cleveland area will be paying a bit more to support arts. In addition to electing a variety of lawmakers, voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, approved a local ballot initiative that will hike the county's cigarette tax by 1.5 cents per cigarette starting in January. The tax, which will add 30 cents to a 20-cigarette pack, is expected to raise about $20 million a year for 10 years. The money will go to arts and cultural organizations, as well as individual artists. Surely a few of them will be... Read more →

Artful unpacking

The North American truck dropped off our stuff here at our suburban Austin home on July 1, 2005. Now, eight months later, we're still unpacking. Well, technically, I guess we were still partially packed. All of our artwork has remained in its moving boxes, stacked in our dining room. I guess it's a good thing we decided to donate that old table, chairs and breakfront to Goodwill before we headed westward, or it would be really crowded in there! This last weekend, though, I got energized. I opened up the 18 mirror boxes and started pulling out the 45 large... Read more →