All Western countries have come to the conclusion that, no matter how much the state intervenes to keep art works, artefacts and antiques on its soil and in its museums, the first and irreplaceable preserver of the national estate is the private owner.

Art tax law has therefore become instrumental in promoting the creation, consolidation and expansion of private collections and patronage. Both the US and France grant hefty tax relief to companies which buy works of art to constitute corporate art collections. For example, article 238 bis AB of the French General Tax Code provides that companies can deduct, from their taxable turnover, the acquisition price of original art works produced by living artists, over a period of five years.  Another Gallic example is the tax cuts granted to French companies that make donations to public bodies which main activity is to present contemporary art fairs to the public.

The UK has been at the forefront of incentivising individuals to buy art: the Own Art scheme, launched by the Arts Council England in 2004, allows British middle classes to borrow up to £2000, to be repaid in ten monthly instalments without interest, for the acquisition of art works through 250 art galleries affiliated with the Own Art scheme.

In a similar vein, while France art tax law protects and encourages artists in an effective way, it often sends mixed messages to art owners and collectors. The latest French “PR blip” was the intense debate, in October 2012, over the inclusion of art works worth above €50,000 in the tax base of the impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF) (French wealth tax).  In addition to a new 75% income tax rate paid by the wealthiest proportion of French residents, many economists and politicians have warned that such inclusion of art works in the ISF would trigger the departure of major art owners and collectors away from France.

When tax decisions or proposals go against the financial interests of art owners, collectors and private galleries, they also indirectly affect the wellbeing of leading public cultural institutions. The heads of seven of the top Paris museums – including the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Pompidou Centre and the palace of Versailles wrote jointly to the French culture minister in October 2012, demanding that the proposal be dropped as they were concerned that the ISF on art works would prompt owners to hold back from lending art works for fear of being identified, or to sell or move abroad their art works.

So if you buy, sell, or collect antiques, collectibles, memorabilia, or fine art, you should check all the Tax Benefits for Collectors, Dealers & Investors existing into our own country.