Archive for September 8th, 2009

Artists Tax Exemption is Deadweight, says Tax Commission

8th September 2009

The Irish Times points out today that while the Tax Commission recommends the scrapping of the Artists Tax Exemption because it is a “deadweight” element, it proposes maintaining the Sportsperson’s relief (subject to a cap) partly because of their “encouragement of positive role models which younger people may seek to emulate.”

Here is the entire text of the reasoning behind the scrapping of the Artists Tax Exemption, as listed in the Tax Commission’s report:

13.23 Artist’s exemption

Income derived from original and creative artistic works (of artists, writers, composers and sculptors), which are recognised as having cultural or artistic merit, is exempt from income tax.

This exemption is not compatible with the equity principle. In addition, it is likely that the exemption involves a significant deadweight element in that the beneficiaries of the relief are likely to engage in their creative activities regardless of the existence of the relief. It is of no benefit to artists whose income does not reach the taxable threshold.

While the tax exemption may have created an environment in which the arts can flourish, considerations of equity and efficiency outweigh this factor and, accordingly, we recommend that the exemption be discontinued. To the extent that there is a need for recognition of income from artistic activity in the tax system, this should focus on those who derive their income solely or predominantly from creative work and in this context, income averaging may have a role to play.

In making this recommendation we note also the fact that the Arts Council operates a system of grants in support of all arts disciplines.

Recommendation 8.98
The artist’s exemption should be discontinued; consideration should be given to introducing income averaging in the taxation of income from creative work.

The emphasis in the quoted material is my own.

The concept that Artists should not receive any relief for their work because they would engage in it anyway is simply a leap of imagination on the part of the Tax Commission entirely without any factual basis, and implies an utter disdain for the work of Artists and their contribution to Irish culture. It also implies that Art has no cost: as if the time, materials, and tools that Artists require to perform their work is free.

In relation to the gross generalisation about the Arts Council funding, it is imperative to point out that there is intense competition for those grants, not everyone is in receipt of that aid, and the Arts Council is facing a vicious cut of its budget, which will result in a significant reduction of those few grants.

Thus the Tax Commission is going to scrap the Artists Exemption partly based on the concept that Artists are receiving grant aid – which most Artists don’t receive on any kind of regular basis!

At no point is it noted that the payment of Artists in Ireland is calculated upon the fact that they are tax exempt, and if the exemption is scrapped Artists will need an equivalent pay increase – which no theatrical/production/publishing company or gallery is going to be able to match in this economy.

The dirty secret in Ireland is that writers/artists/musicians on the whole are vastly underpaid, not even matching the hourly minimum wage. It’s true that many Artists’ incomes don’t meet the taxable threshold, but this horrific fact is not given any consideration.

The only argument in favour of getting rid of the tax exemption would be if it resulted in an improvement of Artists’ wages (which would bring in a proper revenue stream for the government). This would require a mandatory overhaul of the payment schemes for Artists in Ireland. Yet, clearly this idea has never entered the consciousness of the Tax Commission.

It’s going to scrap a scheme that has allowed Artists to endure the long process of establishing a career (often reckoned at ten years) on low and inconsistent incomes. The Tax Commission makes a throwaway concession that Artists often endure on erratic wages (one large payment may have to cover several years work), but doesn’t offer any comprehensive solution for this issue.

And apparently sportspeople make excellent role models for young people, but Artists do not.

If the Tax Commission’s recommendation comes to pass then certainly Artists won’t be role models for young people, because they will be on the streets, broke.

BBC Radio Sketches Needed

8th September 2009

The BBC 4 sketch comedy radio show, Recorded for Training Purposes, is searching for new writers.

The third series went out in January 2009. For that run there was a core writing team of people who’d written on the first two series but the show was also opened up to, well, anyone who wanted a go. Of the 110 sketches broadcast, exactly half were from the core writers, with the other half being sent in by non-commissioned writers.

Every sketch sent in (about 2,000) was read by at least two people from BBC Radio Comedy, with the best stuff gradually being filtered towards the recording scripts, and the stuff that got most laughs getting on air.

It has a cast of six – three men, three women – who can, between them, play most ages.

Series four will, like series three, be written by a mix of a) some people who have written on previous series and b) everyone else in the world.

Only two sketches will be accepted per applicant – details on how to apply on are on the web site.

The deadline for entries is: 12:00 (midnight), 2 October 2009

Hardy Bucks Win Storyland

8th September 2009

The winners of RTÉ’s Storyland webisode competition is Hardy Bucks. The final episode will be online today.

The series is co-written by Martin Maloney and Chris Tordoff, directed by Tordoff, and produced by Maloney.