October 31, 2005

Artists Tax Exemption : IRELAND

Letter from the Sculptors' Society of Ireland

Last chance to have your say

There has been much debate about the artists tax exemption in recent times. A review of all of the various tax relief/incentive schemes operating in Ireland was announced last year by Minister for Finance Brian Cowan. Given that the Artists Tax Exemption only accounts for less than half of one percent of the tax theoretically forgone to the state due to all these various schemes there seems to have been a disproportionate amount of publicity about the Artists Exemption in the press.

A 2006 Budget announcement is approaching shortly and it is likely that some form of statement will be released concerning the review of tax schemes.

We have been working hard over the course of the past year to advocate that the exemption should stay and that it should not be capped.

We are urging artists to make their views known on the issue before it is too late.

See below for more details on what we have done and what you can do.

What we have done.
Recognising that all creative artists are affected by this we have chosen to run a co-ordinated campaign in partnership with those organisations that represent writers and composers. These organisations are the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild and the Association of Irish Composers. Activities to date are as follows.

We have undertaken research and constructed strategic arguments as to why the exemption should stay in full.

We have made written submissions to the Department of Finance in line with the formal review procedure. See www.sculptors-society.ie/news.html#tax

We have addressed a Joint Dail Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. See:

We have met with representatives of the Social Partners including Jimmy Deenihan TD - Fine Gael; Fiona O’Malley TD – Progressive Democrats; Jack Wall TD – Labour; Paul Gogarty TD – Green Party and have more meetings planned with the Chambers of Commerce Ireland, the Conference of Religious of Ireland and others.

We have produced an information leaflet for artists to inform them of the facts figures and issues surrounding the exemption in order to encourage them to speak up with more confidence about why the exemption should be retained.
See www.sculptors-society.ie/news.html#tax

We have encouraged a select number of critically acclaimed and high earning/selling artists to make personal appeals to the John O’Donoghue.

We have worked closely and productively with the Arts Council to share information and ideas and to co-ordinate our campaigns.

We have liaised with the press to try and encourage a more informed and considered approach to coverage of the issue.

We believe our efforts have had some success. John O’Donoghue has recently made very strong public statements in favour of retaining the scheme in full and press coverage of late has been much more positive and importantly much more balanced and informed.

What you can do.
We now need your to help with one final push.

We need you to write to your TD and copy the correspondence to Minister Cowen in the Department of Finance.

We attach to this email a draft letter, which you can add to or alter as you see fit.

We think it would be useful if you could add a short paragraph to the letter to say, how long you have been practicing as an artist, the work you make and the financial pressures you face as an artist.

The letter can be posted or emailed to your TD and similarly posted or emailed to Brian Cowan.


"Insert your name"

Re: Retaing the Artists Tax Exemption

I am writing to you as a visual artist resident in your constituency.

I wish to stae my support for the retention in full of the artists tax exemption which is one of a wide range of tax schemes curently under review by the dept Finance. As an Irish artist I strongly support the scheme.

There are some simple facts about the exemption that I would like to highlight in support of this stance.

Most Irish artists are still poor. Of the 1,300 artists who benefited in 2001, more than half earned under €10,000 and the average income for 87% of artists was below 11,000 (less than the average industrial wage).

Artists do pay tax. The exemption applies strictly to an artist's “creative” earnings only. So a job an artist takes to make ends meet is fully taxed. So too are the performance or merchandise earnings of musical artists – only their earnings from composing their works are exempt.

Artists are in no way unique in getting an exemption on one stream of their income. There are numerous tax incentive/relief schemes in Ireland. Of the Tax forgone to the state as a result of all these various schemes the artists tax exemption accounts for just 0.38% of that total.

High earning artists still pay a lot of tax. The few big earners pay full tax on their “non-creative” earnings. Typically these earnings come to at least twice the amount they get tax-free. The Artists Tax Exemption is an incentive that keeps them in this country and ensures that the tax they do pay is paid in Ireland rather than else where.

High earning artists benefit the country in many other ways. They are direct exemplars and role models for other Irish artists. Their international success raises the reputation of Irish art in general and opens doors for less established artists. They pay considerable amounts of tax in Ireland, typically on two thirds of their total income. They generate substantial business in Ireland – production companies; recording studios; management offices; etc. They generate considerable employment in Ireland. They contribute hugely to the international reputation of Ireland as a society which values and respects creativity. They have a very important impact on the attraction of Ireland as a tourist venue.

The value of the Artists Tax Exemption to Ireland is immense. It has been in place for 36 years, it is simple to administrate and has been incredibly succesful. I call on you to support its retention in full.

Yours sincerely


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