The Fine Gael spokesperson on Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Michael Ring has called for a review of the Artists’ Tax Exemption in light of the burden being carried by all other workers. Deputy Ring went on to say: “We are now in very difficult economic times, we can no longer expect exemption for artists, some of them making a lot of money. They should now pay their fair share to the economy like everybody else. I am calling on the Minister for Finance to immediately review this scheme and make a swift decision on this.”
Following a recent Dáil question the Finance Minister Brian Lenihan revealed that over the period 1994 to 2005 a total of €273.9 million has been written off by Revenue Commissioners on the tax exemption scheme for artists since the scheme was introduced.
Dep Ring had queried various aspects of the scheme and the Minister responded: “The Artists’ Tax Exemption was introduced in 1969 to help create an environment in Ireland in which the arts could flourish and to encourage artists living abroad to come and live in Ireland. Under the scheme, income earned by artists, writers, composers and sculptors from the sale of their work (books and other writings, plays, musical compositions, paintings and sculptures ) is exempt from tax in Ireland in certain circumstances.
“The exemption is only available to individuals who are resident or ordinarily resident and domiciled here for tax purposes and not resident elsewhere. The exemption is one of the reliefs covered by the restriction on the use of tax reliefs, which took effect from January 1, 2007.
“With regard to annual figures on the number of artists who have availed of the exemption and the amount of tax foregone, the relevant available information relates to income tax returns filed for the income tax years 1994/1995 to 2005, the latest year for which the relevant detailed information is available.”
Dep Ring said this was a massive amount of money each year and that these artists don’t have to pay tax on the income they receive. “Many of those artists are earning huge sums of money. Why should their work be exempt from tax? I had also questioned who the top 10 recipients of the exemptions are. This information was not forthcoming from the Minister. I did request the top 10 earners who had applied for this exemption but this information was held from me.
“At a time when everybody has been asked to do their bit for the economy, it is wrong that some of the most well off people can avoid paying their share in these tough economic times,” concluded Dep Ring.