5 Tax Considerations Every Art Collector Should Know
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Capital Gains Tax on Art Sales
  2. Estate Tax Implications for Art
  3. Donation and Gift Tax in Art Giving
  4. Use Tax When Bringing Art Across State Lines
  5. Artist Resale Rights and Royalties

For the love of art, many of us add exceptional pieces to our collection every now and then, but how often do we consider the tax implications of our passion? The financial side of art collecting can be a maze, especially when it comes to tax considerations. In fact, understanding the tax considerations for art collectors can save you a lot of money in the long run. This blog post will get you up to speed on the five most important tax considerations you should be aware of as an art collector. Buckle up, and let's dive into the colorful world of art taxes!

Capital Gains Tax on Art Sales

One of the major tax considerations for art collectors is the capital gains tax that applies to art sales. Unlike stocks and bonds, art and collectibles are subject to a different set of rules when it comes to capital gains tax. Let's break it down:

What is Capital Gains Tax?

Capital gains tax is a fee that you have to pay when you sell something for more than you bought it for. This could be property, stocks, or in our case, art. But when it comes to art, the rules are a bit different than your regular capital gains tax.

How it Works for Art

When you sell a piece of art, and it has increased in value, you will have to pay a capital gains tax. How much? Well, it's a bit higher than you might expect:

  • Long-term capital gains tax: If you've held onto a piece of art for more than a year, and it has increased in value, you're looking at a long-term capital gains tax rate. For art, this is currently set at 28%—significantly higher than the 20% that applies to most financial assets.
  • Short-term capital gains tax: If you've had a piece of art for less than a year and sell it at a profit, the gains are considered as regular income. So, the tax rate depends on your income tax bracket, which could be as high as 37%.

Plan Ahead

Being aware of the capital gains tax on art sales can help you plan better. If you're thinking of selling a piece, consider how long you've owned it. Holding onto it for a little longer could move you from short-term to long-term capital gains—potentially a significant tax saving. Understanding tax considerations for art collectors allows you to make informed decisions and keep more of your hard-earned money.

Remember, it's not just about enjoying art—it's also about understanding the financial implications behind it. So next time you're considering buying or selling a piece of art, don't forget about the tax man!

Estate Tax Implications for Art

Ever wonder what happens to your art collection after you're gone? Estate tax is another critical factor that art collectors should consider, as it can have significant financial implications for your heirs.

Valuation of Art for Estate Tax

When an art collector passes away, their estate—including their art collection—is valued for estate tax purposes. The value of the collection is determined by its fair market value at the time of the collector's death. This can be a tricky process as art valuation is often subjective and can vary depending on the appraiser. Therefore, it's essential to work with a reputable and experienced art appraiser to ensure an accurate valuation.

How Estate Tax Works for Art

Estate tax can take a big bite out of the value of the art collection you leave behind. Here's how it works:

  • Estate tax threshold: As of 2021, if your estate—including your art collection—is worth more than $11.7 million, it's subject to federal estate tax. The tax can be as high as 40% of the estate's value that surpasses the threshold.
  • Tax payment: Estate tax must be paid within nine months of the collector's death. This can put pressure on heirs to sell pieces quickly, possibly at lower prices, to cover the tax bill.

Planning for Estate Tax

There are several strategies you can use to mitigate the impact of estate taxes on your art collection. These might include gifting pieces to heirs during your lifetime, donating art to a museum, or setting up a trust. It's a good idea to consult with an estate planning attorney to understand the best options for your situation.

When it comes to tax considerations for art collectors, estate taxes can have a significant impact on the value of your collection. The key is to plan ahead and consider how your passion for art will intersect with the realities of estate planning.

Donation and Gift Tax in Art Giving

If you're an art collector thinking about gifting a piece of your collection either to a loved one or a charitable organization, it's essential to understand the tax implications. Let's dive into the world of donation and gift tax in art giving.

Donating Art to Charity

Donating art to a charitable organization can be a great way to give back while also receiving a tax break. Here's how it works:

  • Appraisal: To claim a tax deduction for the donated art, you'll need a qualified appraisal of its fair market value.
  • Tax deduction: You can deduct the appraised value of the donated artwork from your taxable income, reducing your overall tax liability.
  • Charitable organization: To qualify for the deduction, you must donate to a registered charity. Be sure to check the organization's status before making the donation.

Gifting Art to Individuals

When you give artwork as a gift, there may be gift tax implications. Here's what you need to know:

  • Gift tax exemption: As of 2021, you can gift up to $15,000 per person per year without incurring gift tax. If the artwork is valued at more than this amount, you may owe gift tax.
  • Paying gift tax: If you exceed the annual exemption, the gift tax is typically paid by the person giving the gift, not the recipient.

Navigating the tax considerations for art collectors can be complex. Whether donating art to a charitable organization or gifting it to a loved one, understanding the potential tax implications is key. It's always a good idea to consult with a tax professional to ensure you're making the most informed decisions possible.

Use Tax When Bringing Art Across State Lines

One of the many joys of being an art collector is the thrill of discovering new pieces from different places. But did you know that if you bring art across state lines, you might have to pay a use tax? Let's break it down.

What is Use Tax?

Use tax is a type of sales tax applied to items purchased outside of your home state for use within your home state. This can apply to artwork you've purchased while traveling or from an out-of-state seller.

When Does Use Tax Apply?

Use tax typically applies when:

  • You purchase an item out-of-state: If you buy a piece of art in another state and bring it back to your home state, you may owe use tax.
  • No sales tax was paid at the time of purchase: If you didn't pay sales tax when you bought the artwork, use tax often applies. This is common when buying from an online retailer or auction site.

How to Calculate Use Tax

Calculating use tax can seem daunting, but it's not as tricky as it might seem. Here’s a simple breakdown:

  1. Determine the sales tax rate in your home state. This information is usually available on your state's department of revenue website.
  2. Apply this rate to the purchase price of the artwork. This will give you the amount of use tax you owe.

While every state's laws may vary, staying informed about these tax considerations for art collectors can save you from unexpected expenses and complications down the line. If you're unsure or have questions, it's always best to consult with a tax professional.

Artist Resale Rights and Royalties

Imagine this—you've just sold an artwork from your collection and made a tidy profit. But did you know that in some parts of the world, a portion of that profit might be owed to the artist or their heirs? This is where artist resale rights and royalties come into play.

Understanding Artist Resale Rights

Artist resale rights, also known as droit de suite, allow artists to receive a percentage of the resale price of their artwork. These rights are designed to ensure artists share in the increasing value of their work.

Where Do Artist Resale Rights Apply?

The scope of artist resale rights varies worldwide:

  • In the European Union: Artist resale rights are mandatory and extend to the artist's heirs for 70 years after their death.
  • In the United States: Only California has a law for artist resale royalties, but it is currently under legal dispute.

Calculating Artist Resale Royalties

While the percentage owed to artists varies from place to place, here's a quick guide to help you understand:

  1. Identify where the artist is based or where they passed away if they are no longer alive.
  2. Check the local laws regarding artist resale rights in that location.
  3. Apply the appropriate percentage to the resale price to calculate the royalty.

Remember, tax considerations for art collectors aren't just about what you owe to the government. They also involve what you might owe to the artists themselves. By understanding artist resale rights and royalties, you can ensure that everyone gets their fair share when art appreciates in value.

If you found the information on tax considerations for art collectors useful, you'll definitely want to explore the workshop 'How to Invest in Art' by Ciarra K. Walters. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and strategies on art investment, helping you make informed decisions as you build your art collection.