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From the Chairman
I generally do not like to return to subjects that I have previously discussed in this column, but occasionally a topic merits another visit because of its importance or because of new developments. This month, I would like to revisit a topic that fits both of those categories.
Although the ISC does not lobby and does not have an advocacy program, we are always watching to see what’s happening in the legislative and legal worlds that might affect our members. Anyone who has read my column knows that these are areas of particular interest to me.
Keeping the ISC’s mission—to advance the creation and understanding of sculpture and its unique, vital contribution to society—in mind, these are not just topics of personal interest to me, they are also important issues for the ISC to explore. Sometimes, we can only touch on the issues, as I often do in this column; other times, we might devote more attention to an issue in the magazine or at our conferences. I hope that we will soon be better equipped to address such issues more broadly and in real time through e-mail and our Web site <www.sculpture.org>.
This month, I return to the subject of tax deductions for donated artwork. When it comes to tax legislation, I believe strongly in fairness, equity, and, where appropriate, proper incentives. Thus, it would seem to go without saying that we want to create incentives for people to be charitable. For that reason, the tax code encourages donors to give cash and appreciated assets—including artwork—to arts institutions and other charitable organizations. Nothing, therefore, is more perplexing to me than the inequitable treatment provided under the tax code for art collectors and for artists with respect to their charitable giving decisions.
An art collector donating an appreciated artwork to a museum will receive a tax deduction for the full value of the artwork. However, should that artwork remain in the hands of its creator—the artist—at the time of its donation, the artist will receive a tax deduction equal only to the cost of materials. Of course, should the artist die with that artwork in his or her hands, the IRS will be all too happy to value it at its fair market value for estate tax purposes. Little comes to mind in our tax code that is less equitable than this, and yet this has been the state of affairs for many years.
There are currently House and Senate bills moving through Congress and gaining sponsors to address this issue. Known as the Artist Deduction Bill (H.R. 1524 and S. 548), these bills would allow artists the full tax deduction provided to collectors and would assure both groups of donors equitable treatment under the tax code. Americans for the Arts has made it simple to write to, and encourage, your congressional representatives to sponsor and support these bills.
Please visit this link and make your voice heard: <http://www.capwiz.com/artsusa/issues/alert/?alertid=9521951&type=CO>.
Chairman, ISC Board of Directors
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