A parliamentary motion to exempt artists from paying taxes on their first $50,000 of income is being applauded by visual artists and institutions across Canada.
The motion—M431—was introduced by Winnipeg MP Pat Martin (NDP) on January 24 and reads as follows: “That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize and acknowledge that artists contribute greatly to the social, cultural and economic well-being of Canada; (b) take note that, in other countries such as Ireland, income earned by artists, writers, performers and creators of art is exempt from income tax; and (c) give consideration to exempting up to $50,000 of annual income earned by artists, writers, creators, and performers who work in Canada’s cultural industries.”
“How many Oscar-winning actors and award-winning painters are languishing and not realizing their full potential for lack of resources?” says Mr. Martin. “We need new economic engines and the arts and culture are legitimate means of economic development.”
Tax relief for artists isn’t new. In 1995, Quebec introduced an exemption on an artist’s first $15,000 in copyright royalties, when their total income is under $30,000. Since then, artist associations have been lobbying to bring this exemption to the federal level.
“The income of many artists is already marginal. Mr. Martin’s motion would greatly assist them in improving their livelihood, professional practices and the creative economy as a whole,” says Gerald Beaulieu, National President of the Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC).
Artists in Ireland have enjoyed tax exemption for 36 years, resulting in highly successful artists internationally and increased public appreciation for the arts. In 2002 the amount of tax theoretically forgone to the Irish state because of the exemption was €24 million. The projected cost to the Canadian tax base is currently being calculated.
Comprised of eleven national visual arts associations, the Visual Arts Alliance is committed to advancing the status of visual artists and institutions in Canada.
For more information on the Visual Arts Alliance, contact any member:
Aboriginal Curatorial Collective
Steve Loft, Ottawa
Art Dealers Association of Canada
Patricia Feheley, Toronto
Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference
Daniel Roy, Montreal
L’Association des groupes en arts visuels francophones
Lise Leblanc, Ottawa
Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC)
April Britski, Ottawa
Canadian Art Museum Directors’ Organization
Shawn Van Sluys, Ottawa
Canadian Crafts Federation
Maegen Black, Fredericton
Canadian Museums Association
John McAvity, Ottawa
Independent Media Arts Alliance
Jennifer Dorner, Montréal
Le Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec
Christian Bédard, Montréal
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
Milly Ristvedt, Toronto