Shop Etsy

Tax Time for Artists: Give Good Deeds Their Due

Apr 3, 2009

by DownToTheWireDesigns handmade and vintage goods

Chuck from DownToTheWireDesigns checked in with us after his New Year’s Resolution to donate a piece of his jewelry every week for the entire year. Committing to a project like that is quite an undertaking for any artist, and Chuck wants to share an important message about a new piece of legislation that would  improve the way artists are compensated for their charitable donations. ‘Tis tax season after all…  

There is currently a proposed change to the tax code pending in the U.S. House of Representatives that could have a profound effect on all U.S. artists if passed.  The proposal, H.R. 1126, also known as the Artist-Museum Partnership Act of 2009, seeks to address the issue of artists donating their work to charitable groups and institutions.  As the law currently stands, any person in the arts donating their art work is only allowed to deduct the cost of the materials involved in producing the art work.  This resolution seeks to change that situation and would allow for a fair market value deduction.

You can follow the progress of the resolution at this site, and you can locate and email your representative through this site.

I would encourage everyone to contact their elected representatives in support of this resolution so that it does not languish without getting a floor vote.  Getting this passed is a basic issue of fairness.  The tax code as it is now written discourages charitable giving in these hard times and it undervalues the work of artists.

To illustrate the absurdity of the current law, consider the following: If I donate a piece that I could normally sell for $100 but that only costs me $10 in materials, I can only deduct that $10 on my tax return.  My time, design abilities, and technical skills are not valued at all in the tax code as it now exists.  However, if someone else buys that same piece of work for the $100 that I normally charge, they could then donate it to charity and deduct the full $100 market value irrespective of the cost of the materials used in its creation.  This is simply not fair, and it hurts both the artists and the groups which rely on those artists in their fundraising efforts.

Again, if you feel that the current law is unfair, please take a moment to send a quick email to your elected representatives encouraging them to support the resolution.  All you need to do is write them a single line saying, “I am writing to encourage you to support H.R. 1126, the Artist-Museum Partnership Act of 2009.”  If you feel inspired you can elaborate by telling your elected official how the current law affects you, and how the change would be an improvement.  Try to keep it short and be respectful.


More Charity-related Posts | Vote for Your Favorite Etsy Items | Etsy Items Tagged “Charity”


Seller Handbook | Tax Season-related Posts


  • hanginmoon

    hanginmoon said 12 years ago

    Umm.. I guess big brother needs some donation.

  • SarahBeeCreations

    SarahBeeCreations said 12 years ago


  • FancifulForm

    FancifulForm said 12 years ago

    LOL "Marking" :op

  • thepairabirds

    thepairabirds said 12 years ago

    Interesting. Thanks for letting us now about this, Down to the Wire.

  • JenGillette

    JenGillette said 12 years ago

    I was joyful at this news, but my boyfriend quickly pointed out that people could artificially inflate the value of "artwork" and "donate" it just to create a nice deduction for themselves. It would be sad if this step forward for artist became yet another tax loophole for the super wealthy.

  • JenGillette

    JenGillette said 12 years ago

    *artists, plural (sorry!)

  • PeppermintDaydreams

    PeppermintDaydreams said 12 years ago

    ooo, hope it passes!

  • DownToTheWireDesigns

    DownToTheWireDesigns said 12 years ago

    I understand that concern JenGillette, but the resolution does require the artwork to be valued in specific ways. I haven't looked into all the details of that, but I would think that having the same or similar items selling either here or in a gallery somewhere would be an adequate gauge of market value. The situation as it now stands is blatantly unfair-- I have a friend who sells polymer micro mosaics in prestigious jewelry galleries around the country for thousands of dollars each. Some of these take her 100+ hours to complete and yet if she wanted to donate one to a charitable cause, she could only deduct the cost of the Fimo which is often worth no more than $10.

  • PhineasandLou

    PhineasandLou said 12 years ago

    Thanks for the info!

  • satellitedaisy

    satellitedaisy said 12 years ago

    I always appreciate good info! Thanks

  • dogties

    dogties said 12 years ago

    How sad...

  • DownToTheWireDesigns

    DownToTheWireDesigns said 12 years ago

    The bigger point is that this issue applies to artists-- producers of art-- not collectors. Presumably, it applies to any artist regardless of their stature. Once the artwork is purchased, it becomes a commodity and then can be donated at whatever value was paid. I have no problem with that-- it encourages people to support the arts by collecting it and supporting museums by donating their collections. What needs fixed is the law as it applies to artist themselves.

  • monamivie

    monamivie said 12 years ago

    Wow, thanks for including my bookbags for Mali in the photos! Really nice!

  • bittersweetdesign

    bittersweetdesign said 12 years ago

    Did it! Sent off the notice to my rep just a minute ago. This definitely needs to be passed!

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen said 12 years ago

    so good to see that you have Jackie's work here - Faces of rescue Series with Reggie as a member of efa, I donate my art work to benefit rescues and many, many other efa members donate up to 100% proceeds from their artwork to benefit the animals - worldwide. Irrespective of any individual countries laws I hope that it will not put people off donating to very needy and worthy causes.

  • shouldhavezagged

    shouldhavezagged said 12 years ago

    Just sent a note to the Honorable Andre Carson of Indiana's 7th Congressional District. :-)

  • sucree

    sucree said 12 years ago

    This would certainly be a positive change for artists! Thanks for this story.

  • zombuki

    zombuki said 12 years ago

    I think it's great, I wonder if it would only apply to donations to charities, since I do giveaways monthly, and a biiig one annually.

  • ClaudiaLord

    ClaudiaLord said 12 years ago

    Thanks for letting us know about this!

  • Signs

    Signs said 12 years ago

    Sounds like a great idea once you figure out how to put a value to art that isn't already a commodity.

  • EpicBones

    EpicBones said 12 years ago

    woah, crazy. this is good info

  • lpdesigns

    lpdesigns said 12 years ago

    thanks for the info, chuck! *off to send an email or two*

  • isewcute

    isewcute said 12 years ago

    would be great if it passed...because a work of art is so much more valuable than just the materials that go into a time of casting, sanding, polishing should be considered! :o)

  • Lunatiger

    Lunatiger said 12 years ago

    That's pretty unfair! It takes work to make those pieces! It just get slap together in 1 minute! Outrageous.

  • jenmaestre

    jenmaestre said 12 years ago

    Thanks so much for this article. I've been donating art for years, but only small pieces, because of the unfair deduction.

  • DownToTheWireDesigns

    DownToTheWireDesigns said 12 years ago

    Jen, your work is a perfect example of why this change needs to be made. It is obvious from looking at your pieces that they take a lot of time, skill, and creativity. That is what people are paying for when they purchase your work-- not just the pencils. Yet that is all that the tax code currently says you can deduct-- the cost of the pencils. If you donated one of your sculptures to charity and then also donated just the materials used to make the sculpture as a second donation, according to the government both would be worth the same deduction. Obviously, they are not going to get the same response from those attending the auction. The reason for that-- your talent-- is precisely what the tax code does not consider.

  • MeadowbelleMarket

    MeadowbelleMarket said 12 years ago

    Thanks for the reminder! I just took a moment to write my representative in MO. This is definitely important. I'm sure I'm not the only artist who has made at least half a dozen contributions to organizations in the past year.

  • dogs4deb

    dogs4deb said 12 years ago

    thank you for the information on this very important tax issue. its hard enough being an artist!

  • CutieDynamite

    CutieDynamite said 12 years ago

    Thanks for the info, interesting!

  • BlueTerracotta

    BlueTerracotta said 12 years ago

    This is good news for American artists. Artistic effort and work has been undervalued for a long seems we're just "having a good time" when we make art!

  • fineartstoneware

    fineartstoneware said 12 years ago

    Thanks for the important info!

  • vivilian

    vivilian said 12 years ago

    very pretty creation! ☆╭┐┌╮☆°.﹒ ╭┘└┘└╮∴°☆° └┐..┌┘─╮∴° ╭┴──┤∴∴├╮ │o o│  │●° ╰┬──╯  │ ∴°﹒ ☆ \ˍ|ˍ/ˍˍˍ/∴☆. ☆╭┐┌╮☆°.﹒

  • BayMoonDesign

    BayMoonDesign said 12 years ago

    If you want to put a smile on your face, take a look at laughinghyena's shop. So cool and you have stuff for guys too. Everyone needs some humor when contemplating taxes.

  • littlepinkpebble

    littlepinkpebble said 12 years ago

    wow~!! that'll be great if approved

  • LeftHandHats

    LeftHandHats said 12 years ago

    I just sent an e-mail to my Congressman. I have already spoked with two charities about donating things for silent auctions at their events this year and, this passing would certainly make it easier to do so more frequently!

  • JenGillette

    JenGillette said 12 years ago

    Oh, don't worry, guys, I am definitely in full support of this move. I think just being able to claim materials is grossly unfair and pretty much supposes that an artist doesn't deserve an hourly wage, which is ridiculous. I was just making the point that as with most tax laws, there is room for abuse. It's a sad situation, but I care a lot more about the benefit to us artists than the possibility of tax sheltering.

  • StudioCherie

    StudioCherie said 12 years ago

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  • odiliafu

    odiliafu said 12 years ago

    Thanks for the info!

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 12 years ago


  • cozycottagecreations

    cozycottagecreations said 12 years ago

    Well, that would be good news! Thanks for passing on the info. It's great to hear that the government is working towards something that SUPPORTS artists for a change.

  • LadyLuLus

    LadyLuLus said 12 years ago

    Good article


    THEZEBRAFROG said 12 years ago

    Very interesting.

  • scavengerhunt

    scavengerhunt said 12 years ago

    Nice to know these things thanks

  • lavalleygirly

    lavalleygirly said 12 years ago

    Very interesting..thank you for putting the spotlight on this.

  • compassionmalas

    compassionmalas said 11 years ago

    How great is Etsy, to have such important items about the politics affecting us artists! I just sent the email. Thanks for the information.

  • Tina669

    Tina669 said 11 years ago

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Sign in to add your own