Rep. David Richardson continues to sculpt a statute to exempt works of art from the sales tax. Richardson this week filed HB 89, a fine-tuning of a proposal that failed to get out of committee last year.
Richardson said he wants to support the arts by eliminating double taxation. Art, he explained, often is purchased as an investment, and currently the state collects a sales tax when a consumer purchases art and then the federal government collects a capital gains tax when the art is resold.
Richardson said he addressed concerns expressed in 2014 to lessen the impact to general revenue with the hope of building a consensus for the tax exemption.
“I believe in baby steps,” said Richardson explaining why he agreed to narrow the proposal.
“We literally spent weeks trying to decide what is art . . . (made) sure that someone did not get literature or a music performance or a gown or edible on the list,” said Richardson. “The bulk of artists aren’t wealthy and don’t make a lot of money. We have a number of artist enclaves throughout Florida and I hope it helps them.”
Richardson’s latest proposal limits the exemption to an original works of art that are signed and sold by the artist. The work must cost at least $1,000 and applies to paintings, sculptures, etching, pottery and ceramics.
Louisiana, Delaware and Rhode Island exempt works of art from sales tax.
“The art industry, more so than other industries, was hit hard by the economic downturn – art is a luxury item, so in bad times people don’t spend money on luxury items,” Ellen Waxman told the Wall Street Journal last year.
Waxman owns an art gallery in Wickford, R.I and led the fight to exempt works of art from a sales tax.