More Italians Take Avantage of Art-for-Taxes Scheme

According to a Reuters report, recent efforts by the Italian government to reinvigorate a program whereby citizens can use cultural treasures and fine art to satisfy tax bills have been successful. Along with artworks, the government will accept property with archaeological value including antique books and villas.

The culture and tourism ministry said on October 13 that minister Dario Franceschini had named a panel to tally the overall value of works offered to pay income and inheritance taxes. The ministry said the panel is an important element in reviving the program, which was set up in 1982, but sparked relatively little interest.

Other countries in the EU have seen a more active response to these tax payment programs, notably in Britain, where a similar plan attracted works worth $80.4 million (£50 million) in 2012–13, according to Arts Council England, the Reuters report notes. Franceschini is pushing for more funding, both private and public, to maintain Venice and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. He said accepting artwork as payment for taxes allows Italy to accomplish “a double objective.”

According to Franceschini, via the report: “In a moment of crisis, it allows people to fulfill their tax obligations by selling works of art, on the other hand [Italy] regains its historical and artistic assets.” The Italian economy ministry surmises that tax evasion costs the country a whopping $115 billion (€91 billion) per year.

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