Culture Feed

American artist John Trumbull's painting of the presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence, which is the artwork's name, to Congress. (Image from Wikimedia Commons) Happy July 4th everybody! I hope all y'all are having great and save 245th birthday party for what became the United States. Relatively speaking, we're still a young country. And like most juveniles and young adults, we're still making mistakes. But we're learning (I hope) from them as push ahead to reach what our Constitution calls a more perfect union. To get there, we need to turn to another critical U.S. document, the... Read more →

Many of us used to spend Saturday afternoons at the movies. Streaming and on demand options have cut into those ticket sales, but Oscar nominations and wins still boost ticket sales and the taxes collected on those admission slips. (Photo from Keith Page archives via Kevin Dooley on Flickr) It's an honor to win an Oscar. Or, according to those who don't, just to be nominated. It's also usually provides films an economic boost, even before the statuettes are handed out. And that could also help out those states, like Texas, that collect sales tax on movie theater tickets. Nominations... Read more →

"Stay (Faraway, So Close)" isn't just the title of a U2 song. It's a good description of the popular Irish rock band's tax situation. The band, fronted by Bono and The Edge, has sold more than 150 million records and is estimated to be worth around €805 million ($1.1 billion U.S.). And like lots of businesses and their wealthy owners, U2 found a way to reduce its taxes. U2 moved part of its operation from its native Ireland just across the North Sea to Holland in 2006 to take advantage of that country's lower tax rate. The reason? Ireland capped... Read more →

When is fair market value not the appropriate valuation for tax purposes? When the Internal Revenue Service says it isn't. The value controversy is part of the tax fight now underway between heirs of New York art dealer Ileana Sonnabend and the IRS. Included in Sonnabend's estate is the Robert Rauschenberg work "Canyon." The piece, described as a sculptural combine, contains a stuffed bald eagle. That's right, the symbol of the United States. Sonnabend got an informal OK from Uncle Sam to hold onto "Canyon" even though the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the 1918 Migratory Bird... Read more →

The soul of tax wit is brevity

That Shakespeare. He truly was well ahead of his time, penning Polonius' famous phrase celebrating succinctness more than four centuries before Twitter. Now some modern-day tax wits have taken the Bard's words to heart. The TaxProf challenged his fellow legal academicians to come up with six-word stories about tax. My favorite: "Really? Money found in piano income," from Ann Murphy of Gonzaga. Two that shed light on the confusing matter of dependents tied for a close second: "The dog is not a dependent," from Jim Maule of Villanova and "You can't deduct your inner child," from Chris Hoyt of Missouri-Kansas... Read more →

A tax break Lady Heather would love

I'm a big fan of charitable donations. I'm also a big fan of cultural events and organizations. And, of course, I am a tax geek have personal and professional interest in how the tax system works. So I love it when all these things come together. Over the years, my financial gifts to various museums have gotten me gift shop discounts, access to special exhibits and, of course, tax deductions. But the gift of Ann Marie Coughlin to a New York City museum puts a whole new twist on the traditional tax and culture connection. Coughlin is a dominatrix who... 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 →