Paris, 10 October 2012. Art Media Agency (AMA).
Since its creation in 1982, the French ISF (impôt sur la fortune) – or Solidarity Tax on Wealth, has always exempted artwork. Right-wing MP Marc Le Fur had already attempted to submit artwork to the Solidarity Tax on Wealth in year 2011, in vain. General budget rapporteur of the Assemblée Nationale (French equivalent of the Houses of Parliament), Pierre Eckert, came up with a new proposition of an amendment which would include artwork rated over €5,000 in the solidarity tax on wealth – except those accessible to the public.
The minister for Culture, Aurélie Filippetti, is very reluctant toward the idea. Art professionals are against the idea of regarding art as part of an estate or a financial share, subject to return. The Quotidien de l’Art states Guillaume Cerutti, president of Sotheby’s France: “The purchase of artwork isn’t equivalent to the security of long-term property investments, nor does it offer the advantages of producing interests and dividends every year, as do proper financial investments. On the contrary, an art object presupposes maintenance, restoration and insurance fees. Many cost benefit analyses have shown how little return the purchase of a piece of art represents – assuming it isn’t below zero.
Another risk is the shift of French collectors’ purchases towards foreign collectors’ purchases. Taxing artwork could mean smothering the French art market, to this day a national market above all. French cultural heritage could be damaged by this tax. Many professionals of the art market have highlighted how vain they think proposing such an amendment a few days away from the opening of the FIAC (International Contemporary Art Fair) is. They have also emphasized the inefficiency of the measure, difficult to actually apply considering how risky estimating artwork is. In short, the measure has raised many questions and controversies, although it would only represent 1 to 2% of the total weight of the Solidarity Tax on Wealth.