Public Issues

Equal Rights for Artists

In the March edition of 15 Bytes, Sue Martin provided some tax tips for artists. One of her tips, involving artists donating their work to non-profits raised some questions among our readers. Because Sue wrote that artists should have the receiving organization give them a receipt for the value of their donation, some readers wondered if the current federal legislation discriminating against artist donations had changed. Unfortunately, this is not the case, but with your help maybe the law could be changed. 

A bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would seek to give equal rights to artists. Current legislation discriminates between artists and collectors when it comes to donations to non-profit organizations. When a collector donates an artwork they can take a deduction for the full market value of the piece. When an artist donates an artwork they can only deduct the cost of materials. So, whereas a collector can deduct, say $1500 on a framed oil painting they donate to a local nonprofit, an artist would only be able to deduct about $200 (the cost of canvas, frame and paint) for the same piece.

Despite this inequity, artists are frequently approached by non-profits to donate artwork to various fundraising events.

If you would like to see this law changed, you can help by going to the Americans for the Arts website. Their simple form allows you to put in your zip code and provides you with a sample email that you can send to your representative to urge them to take action on this important bill.

If you would like to discuss local issues of artist donations and non-profit fundraising events, you should plan on attending the April Culture Bytes, sponsored by the Utah Cultural Alliance. Culture Bytes is a monthly discussion forum. Once a month, the Utah Cultural Alliance presents a discussion on timely, relevant topics with a panel and moderator and food and drinks, as the sessions are at lunchtime.  Culture Bytes is free for UCA members and $5 for non-members. 
The APRIL 8th Culture Bytes is: Organizing Successful Silent Auctions & Planning Etiquette.  Panelists include:
            Steven K. Sheffield, Artist
            Jana Ward, JL Designs
            Representative, Rowland Hall-St. Mark’s
Moderator – Marc Weyerstall, Westminster College

For more information go to:

A RETRACTION? Techinically the advice in Sue Martin’s article was correct. Receiving a receipt for the value of your donation to a non-profit organization is important. Unfortunately, not all non-profits are aware of the current discriminatory legislation regarding artist donations so they might give you a receipt for the full value of the work rather than the value that you as an artist are allowed to deduct. So, for now, be careful and contact your legislator so it won’t be so confusing in the future 🙂

Categories: Public Issues

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.