In Brief

Spain’s Art-for-Taxes Program Only Works When the Art’s Good

Johannes Vermeer, "Woman Holding a Balance" (detail) (c. 1664) (via Wikimedia Commons)
Johannes Vermeer, “Woman Holding a Balance” (detail) (c. 1664) (via Wikimedia Commons)

If taxes sound taxing to you, consider this alternative: move to Spain, purchase valuable and culturally significant artworks, and donate them to the Spanish government in lieu of tax. Just make sure they’re really significant artworks.

That’s what many prominent Spanish banks and corporations have been doing for years. The bank Caja Madrid got out of over $4 million in taxes by donating four works by Francisco de Goya to the Museo del Prado between 2002 and 2003, and in 2005 the urban infrastructure company Ferrovial donated a painting by John of Flanders worth around $8 million, The Art Newspaper reports.

However, in the past year there has been a marked decline in the efficacy of this art-for-taxes scheme. Much to the chagrin of the Spanish corporate elite, none of the artworks on the table made the cut: they were all deemed too historically insignificant.

But don’t despair, Spanish financiers: if your government’s tastes continue to prove too aesthetically conservative, you can always move to a number of other countries including France, the UK, and India that accept art donations as tax payments.

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