Last year I donated seven prints to worthy causes so they could sell them in charity auctions. Like anyone who donates to a nonprofit, I believe in the cause and want to do what I can to further their mission. When I give a print to an organization it represents not only the potential fair market value of the work, but the passion and creative energy that went in to producing the piece in the first place.
And do you know how the IRS values that contribution? Under the current tax code if an artist donates work the IRS only recognizes the cost of the materials. In my case that's the cost of printing and the paper. If John Currin wanted to donate a painting to Coalition for the Homeless, he would only be able to deduct the cost of the paint and canvas.
What's crazy is that if I were a collector and I donated an Amy Stein I would be able to deduct the fair market value of the piece. Sad to say, but this definitely causes me pause when I think about donating work.
But, it doesn't have to be.
The Artist-Museum Partnership Act has been introduced and reintroduced in the past five Congresses. The bill seeks to remove the tax code inequity that currently dissuades artists from donating their works to museums, libraries and other nonprofit organizations. The bill has once again been introduced in the House and the Senate, but seems to be languishing in committee.
There is a lot of bad news in our country right now and this bill certainly does not rise to the level of emergency, but as tax day approaches maybe it's time to bring it the floor and give it a thumbs up or thumbs down.