The Federal Artist Deduction Bill- What it means to artists and what you can do.

by Joan Blazich

It seems like a variation of this bill comes around every few years in Congress, yet it never makes it past the committee level. But it should, because it will have a massive impact on ALL artists. Why?  Because, as of right now, there exists a disparate gap between how artists and collectors are treated when it comes to claiming IRS tax deductions for donating works of art. This definition of art includes literary, musical, artistic, and scholarly creations.

Under current laws, a collector who chooses to donate an artistic work to a nonprofit institution such as a school, museum, etc., may deduct the fair market value of that piece for tax purposes. So, if the going rate for the artists work is, say, $5000, that collector can deduct $5000. However, if an artist chooses to donate one of their works to a nonprofit entity, as the law stands now, they are only entitled to deduct the costs of creating that work.

So, a visual artist can deduct the costs of construction materials such as canvas, paint, clay, etc., but nothing more. For musical compositions, you could donate the cost of staff paper; for literary compositions, the cost of typing paper, etc… you get the general idea. Given the ever-increasing costs of artistic supplies, as well as the time and effort that goes into creating every artistic creation, it doesn’t make much sense for artists to not receive full deduction credits for their donations. After all, that creation has value, something which remains regardless of whether the item in question is sold or donated.

Thankfully, a bipartisan group of Representatives in the U.S. House is again working on a bill that would help correct this imbalance. Known as the Artist Deduction Bill, H.R. 1190, this legislation would end this disparity by granting artists the same deduction allowances as collectors.  This would not only offer an immediate benefit to artists, but may also help to increase donations to nonprofit entities in the future.

This sounds like a great idea! How can I show my support?

The great people at American’s for the Arts have made it very easy to help support this legislation- all it takes are a few clicks of a mouse. Click here to petition your Representative online to support this bill. I just did it, and it literally took less than one minute to make my support of this bill known to my local Representative, David Price. Americans for the Arts provides a form letter.  However, as always when sending such letters, if you have time, providing personal stories or examples of the impact of the issue on your life and work would make the letter more effective.

Taxes are never enjoyable for anyone, and we all want every deduction we can claim. This includes artists, whose creative endeavors make our communities a better, brighter, more intellectually-stimulating place. So why not give our artists the same tax deduction opportunity as collectors? Please take a few moments to contact your local Representative in support of H.R. 1190. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it will make a significant difference for all of our artists.

Joan Blazich, who is interning for Triangle ArtWorks this summer, is a second-year law student at the University of North Carolina School of Law. She also holds a Doctorate in Music and is an active performer in numerous local ensembles. She can be reached by email

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One Comment

Anna Podris says:

Thanks for this! I am on my way to sign the petition.

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