Thursday May 01, 2014

In Mexico, artwork can pay off your taxes

People at an art gallery look at the "Madre e Hijos" (Mother and Children) by Mexican master Diego Rivera in New York. (Reuters)

People at an art gallery look at the "Madre e Hijos" (Mother and Children) by Mexican master Diego Rivera in New York. (Reuters)

Listen 10:11

What if you could pay your taxes not with money but with something like art? Jian talks to freelance journalist Eva Hershaw about a program in Mexico that allows visual artists to do just that.

Hershaw recently wrote a piece for The Atlantic about how the government program works, who is eligible, and what might be considered "art" in this case.

Although Hershaw notes there already exist similar programs, such as one in the U.K., that allow people to donate art in exchange for tax incentives, she said the difference with the Mexican program is that it doesn't require any appraisals of the works for monetary value.

"There's absolutely no fiscal translation of the artwork that's given to them," she said. "It's a simple ratio program. The number of pieces you sell, there's a quick, easy equation that will  tell you the number of pieces you have to donate to the government."

In case you think cheating such a program might be easy, Hershaw noted that a government board of artists and art experts have been known to reject some works.

"Part of the program, or the idea, is that you're judged by your peers who are also artists or experts in the area of art, to make sure that what you're donating is actually enriching the cultural heritage of the nation in some way," she said.