Members of the federal parliament will today discuss a proposal to allow companies to write off the cost of purchased artworks against tax.
The measure concerns only works by living artists, with a maximum price of €50,000. At present, a company may deduct the cost of decorating and furnishing its reception area, for example, with the latest designer furniture. But the painting on the wall cannot be written off as a tax-deductible expense – unless it is rented.
Two MPs, Benoît Piedboeuf (MR) and Christian Leysen (Open VLD), aim to change that.
“At the moment, the tax code allows deduction for art rented to decorate the office, but not for buying it,” Piedboeuf said. “The tax authorities reckon that art does not lose its value, and does not need to be amortised. We think a work of art could indeed lose its value, and we also think the added value on resale should be taxable.”
The pair claim that experience of the sales rooms shows that artists are getting less for their work than they did a decade and more ago. But they are just as keen to use the tax code to help support artists by making the purchase of artworks more attractive to companies.
“We want to introduce deductibility for the acquisition of artworks in order to support artists, especially young artists but also the sector in general, which requires help from the public sector outside the realm of subsidies and acquisitions,” Piedboeuf said. “The introduction of a fiscally interesting system could be a stimulus for the sector.”
The RTBF spoke to Brussels-based art expert Henry Bounameaux, who is critical of the condition in the proposed law that makes the system applicable only to artists who have been working professionally for five years or less.
“These are the artists who experience the most difficulty, but it seems to me that these artists are perhaps a little too young to be assisted to the extent this proposal mentions, with sales of up to €50,000. I think there’s some confusion between the need to support artists and the cost of acquisitions.”
And he pointed out that very few artists – not only those starting out – find it difficult to live from their art alone. It makes little sense, given that fact, to concentrate efforts on the youngest, he said.