via Visual Artists Ireland:

In a statement issued on Monday 7 September 2009, the Arts Council has said that it is to argue for the continuation of the Artists’ Tax Exemption Scheme. The Arts Council has reported that it will make a strong case to Government for the retention of the tax exemption scheme, the discontinuation of which was recommended by the Taxation Commission’s report, also published on Monday.

Ms Pat Moylan, Chairman of the Arts Council, was quoted as saying that the Arts Councilís unequivocal advice to the Minister for Finance and the Government will be that the tax exemption scheme should be retained in its entirety. Outlining the issues that the Arts Council has with the Commission’s recommendation 8.98, Ms Moylan emphasised the detrimental effects that the removal of the Artists’ Tax Exemption could have on artists who would be directly affected by an abolition of the scheme and on the country’s global cultural profile:

“The Arts Council disagrees with the recommendation of the Commission on Taxation.  As the Diaspora event at Farmleigh will confirm when it debates this matter in two weeks’ time, Ireland has a tremendous opportunity to promote itself in a positive way through our global cultural profile.  If the exemption was withdrawn, a situation would be created where there would be pressure on that profile,” Ms Moylan said.
“If the exemption goes, we could lose entirely, or in part, to the art world or other jurisdictions, a considerable number of artists.  This would not be for the public good.”
She warned that if the exemption were scrapped, it would discourage artists who might think, at the early stages of their careers, that they have the potential for very significant commercial success from staying in Ireland.  It could also discourage people from continuing with a career in the arts.
“The artists’ exemption scheme is not a ‘rich man’s’ relief as has been portrayed in some quarters.  The greatest number of its beneficiaries struggle for financial viability on a year-on-year basis.  This is true of relatively unknown beneficiaries, as well as certain of Ireland’s most internationally renowned and critically acclaimed artists.
“Arts Council research has shown that over half the beneficiaries of the Scheme have average earnings of less than half the minimum wage.  Of the two per cent who are considered high earners, most of whom are in popular music and writing, only one-third of their income qualifies for the relief.
“It is important for Ireland to have artists of world renown resident in Ireland, just for example Seamus Heaney, Roddy Doyle, John Banville, Patricia Scanlan, the Corrs, U2, Enya, Westlife, Boyzone, the Cranberries, Paul Brady, Louis le Brocquy, Robert Ballagh, Jim Sheridan, Neil Jordan, Maeve Binchy, Cathy Kelly, Marion Keyes – and there are many others.
“Apart from the global perception this creates for Ireland, it has helped put in place world class local infrastructures in artistic management and technical expertise.  For up and coming artists, this is of considerable assistance.  Without the high earners, who support the infrastructure in a major way, this professional layer would be lost to Ireland.”
“The Arts Council, based on figures from a few years ago, had worked out that if the exemption were scrapped and artists leave Ireland, the Exchequer could be foregoing some €36 million in tax revenue – far more than it will bring in!”

from Arts Council News

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