Art Feed

You've got to hand it to New York. The Big Apple truly does have something for everyone and every, uh, predilection. There is, of course, a price. And a tax. The Museum of Sex found that out the hard way. Yes, I know, some of what I will type in this post will be, I swear, unintended double entendres. Please accept my apologies in advance, but I just don't have time to search through my thesaurus for synonyms. The New York Post reports that the New York state tax office slapped an $82,192 tax lien on the Museum of Sex... Read more →

The hubby and I enjoy fine art. Most of our vacations include trips to museums. We even own a few original pieces by artists other than my grandmother, although I must say her work, like the Texas bluebonnet field below, is among my favorites. Her landscapes and more lighthearted pieces are very valuable to us. But Vera K originals and the handful of other paintings we own by more famous painters won't one day produce any big estate tax issues. Estate tax issues with art values: Wealthier art patrons, however, often find that their collections could produce tax problems for... Read more →

Our beloved cat Zeke was part of our family for 19 years. He's been gone for 15 now and we still think about him every day. Zeke chilling out in a box at our Maryland condo back in 1984. Our human family and friends are stunned we never adopted another cat. When I've broached the subject of a new kitty over the years, the hubby's reaction has remained consistent and firm: "Do people get another kid when they lose one?" Sometimes, but that's a topic and blog post for another time. Today's focus is on our collective devotion to our... Read more →

The Swiss women's Olympic hockey team took home a bronze medal today, but in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, that country is the gold standard for offshore accounts. For years, the IRS has been encouraging U.S. taxpayers who have foreign accounts to 'fess up about where they keep their money. The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, or OVDP, and related efforts offer incentives for taxpayers to disclose their offshore accounts. As long as they pay their delinquent taxes, interest and slightly reduced penalties, they won't face criminal prosecution. They IRS doesn't like the term tax amnesty, but that's essentially... Read more →

Early reports of what's in the Senate-approved fiscal cliff deal were pretty darn spot on. The Senate took H.R. 8, the Republican sponsored and House-passed (by a 256-171 party-line vote on Aug. 1, 2012) measure to continue all the Bush tax cuts, thereby conforming to the constitutional requirement that tax legislation originate in the House, and amended -- or, more accurately, overwrote -- the bill. Now we wait for the House to act. Vice President Joe Biden met with Democrats there this afternoon and judging by the press conference that followed, most of them are on board. The Republican House... Read more →

The modern art showpiece "Canyon" has a new permanent home at New York City's Museum of Modern Art thanks to a $41 million settlement with the Internal Revenue Service. Entrance of Museum of Modern Art via Wikimedia Commons The work by Robert Rauschenberg is a combine, a mixed-media collage featuring photographs, cardboard, wood, fabric and a stuffed bald eagle on canvas. The ornithological symbol of the United States is why Uncle Sam got involved. The 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act make it a crime to possess, sell, purchase, barter, transport, import... Read more →

At a recent personal finance bloggers conference in Denver, a few of my colleagues and I took time off from talking dollars and cents to see some local sights. As part of our ice cream and art walking tour (and yes, I admit that the ice cream was as big a draw as the art!) we were treated to some of the Mile High City's public art. That's "National Velvet" to the left, a sculpture by Denver artist (not pro tennis player) John McEnroe, installed in 2008 at the eastern foot of the city's Highlands Walking Bridge. It cost $53,000... 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 →

Sin taxes are a common revenue raising technique at the state and county levels. At least a portion of the increased tax collections usually goes to help fund a cause that has a direct connection with tax. But not always. Almost four years ago voters in voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, approved a ballot initiative that increased the county's cigarette tax by 1.5 cents per cigarette. But instead of going toward health programs, the Ohio county's cigarette tax money supports local arts and cultural organizations. As someone who enjoys cultural offerings locally and when the hubby and I travel and... Read more →

Glastonbury Festival. U2. Tax protesters. Yep, that's what is on tap at the famed music event tonight. U2 will be making a long-awaited first appearance at Glastonbury tonight. Among those waiting to greet Bono, The Edge and the rest of the boys as they take the stage will be protesters from Art Uncut. The group plans to unfurl a giant inflatable message demanding "Bono Pay Up." UPDATE, 10 p.m. CDT: The protesters sign went up, but rain, mud and aggressive security guards quickly quashed the display. It will mark the beginning of a weekend of events that the group of... Read more →

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's search for ways to close his state's $1.3 billion budget gap has driven him to propose making driver's licenses and vehicle registrations contingent on motorists' tax compliance. Photo by Gabriel Boone/iStock The governor would let the state refuse to issue or renew licenses and registrations to those who have unpaid, undisputed tax obligations. By making drivers pay up, the administration estimates it could collect an additional $40 million over the next two years. O'Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec told the Baltimore Sun that the proposal isn't a new tax, but a way to collect existing taxes. "The... Read more →

Most of us have finished our 2009 tax returns. And though Tax Freedom Day(s) 2010 have come and gone, Uncle Sam is still taking a bite out of our paychecks. So in this recess before the Senate returns and starts considering which tax breaks we might get again and who will pay for them, otherwise known as the annual tax extenders legislation, it's as good a time as any to take another look at where our tax money goes. As the graphic below indicates, most of the average household's tax dollars are not going to the IRS, but to cover... 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 →

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 →