It’s the Law

Dec. 12, 2012

Evidently those who make the laws don’t have much understanding of or good feeling toward artists.  Although politicians talk about how they want to promote small businesses and individual artists are about as small a business as you can get, the laws that regulate artists range from burdensome to downright unfair.

Here’s an example.  I gave a painting to the Social Service League of Lawrence as a charitable donation.  They put it on EBay and sold it for $200.  But do I get the same tax deduction as I would have if I had given them $200?  No.  Artists are allowed to take a tax deduction on charitable gifts of art work  based only on the cost of the materials.  This seems unfair to me.  If I gave a desk to the Salvation Army to sell in their store, my tax deduction would be based on the value of the desk.  But if I give a painting to charity whose value would be determined by what someone was willing to pay for it, the amount of my contribution is minimized.

When I learned how well my painting had done on EBay, I thought for a moment maybe I should try selling my paintings on EBay.  But here again the law would get in the way.  The sales tax law says that sales tax should be paid to the state where the person lives who bought the item, not the state where the seller lives.  This means if someone wanted to buy a painting that I put on EBay I would have to get a sales tax number from the state where the buyer lived and find out the exact sales tax rate of the city my painting was being shipped to.  Then at the end of the year I would have to fill out a complicated form, probably on line and pay tax to that state.  Possibly I would have to do this for several states and I have enough trouble just coping with Kansas sales tax.  Furthermore, the law says that if you sell something in a state and pay the sales tax then every year thereafter you have to file a form in that state whether you sold anything in that state that year or not.  It sounds too frustrating for my very small business to consider.

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