ARTS TAXED BY RUMORS

Imagine Picasso worrying about the taxes on his sprawling masterpiece, Guernica. (“Oh, hell. I’ll just make it a miniature.”) Imagine Warhol quibbling with the IRS. (“Five hundred for each soup can? But they’re ail alikel”)

Although they’re afraid to say so for the record, Dallas artists and gallery owners are worrying about rumors that tax appraisers have begun assessing taxable values to artists’ works of art.

One sculptor who works in Deep Ellum says she refuses to open her door to anyone for fear it will be the revenuers. “I don’t mind paying tax on my equipment,” she says, “but I consider any work in my studio unfinished, with no taxable value.” If she were taxed on any of her unfinished art. she says, she would go broke.

Gallery owners are worried too. “If we have to pay taxes on the value of a work of art every year,” says one owner, “we can all call it quits. It’s almost too terrible to talk about.”

Ken Vieux, director of appraisals for the Dallas Central Appraisal District, swears that tax collectors aren’t out to get the city’s artists, though he admits that “We’re seeing more of an artist community than we’ve ever seen in the past,” And if it’s visible, it’s taxable. Vieux says equipment and materials are appraised for taxation, as well as art that is offered for sale, but never incomplete works of art.

“There is not an attempt,” says Vieux, “to generate more revenue from artists. I suspect the amount [of tax money] we could get [from artists] would be so small that it wouldn’t be viable to do that.” And even then, he says, the appraisers wouldn’t pick out one group to terrorize. Tax people, it seems, take pride in terrorizing evervone.

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