It is not unusual for artists to be asked to donate their work for charitable causes. Some artists look for such opportunities. Other artists shy away from such requests. It is true that artists are sometimes least prepared to give away the products of their labors or even reproductions of original artwork. One problem that artists face is that tax laws do not allow them to deduct the value of their work, only the material costs. For most artists I would gamble, the material costs are a small fraction of the cost of their time in the making of their work.
As a result, the one thing artists have the least of, their time, and which is their most valuable asset, is given no value by the IRS. Even an artist with a long sales record to prove the value of their work on the open market cannot deduct any more than the costs of canvas, paints, photographic papers or inks.
Collectors of art, on the other hand, can deduct the full purchase value of donated works and in some cases when art works have increased in value, the current assessed value of the art. This aspect of the law makes the donation of art by collectors much more advantageous than for the artists themselves.
When you decide to acquire a new piece of art, remember to keep the receipt! That receipt is proof of the purchase price of the art and may be the ticket to getting the maximum tax deduction allowed by law if it is offered as donation to a charitable organization.
Recently, I received an email from someone who was offering one of my prints for a charitable cause and wanted to know more about it. Brian was his name and he was interested in knowing
where the image was made and what its current value may be. I was able to tell him that the image was made on the Outer Banks of North Carolina 15 years ago and what the current value of a framed piece. I was also able to inform him that the print was part of a limited edition that has been sold out for several years. Brian was pleased to receive all the information and I’m sure it will add in the appreciation of his donation.