Can I save on taxes by destroying art?

Susanne Schaefer, Stb, MOORE STEPHENS Wuppertal GmbH

Susanne Schaefer, Stb, MOORE STEPHENS Wuppertal GmbH

Of course!

Elementary case: The Beuys grease stain (extremely well-known and almost a little trivial)

In 1982, Joseph Beuys stuck half a pound of butter to a wall in the Academy of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but when the building superintendent found the grease stain four years later, he was not amused, due in part to the persistent rancid odor. He wiped the stain away.

For advanced students: Banksy’s parachuting rat

In 2010, the graffiti artist Banksy adorned the wall of a house in Melbourne with an image of a parachuting rat. This offended the aesthetic sensibilities of the Australian street cleaning crew, who proceeded to paint over the rat.

For specialists: Babis Panagiotidis’ horse sculpture

In 2009, Babis Panagiotidis displayed his two-meter-tall horse sculpture, crafted out of more than 18,000 computer keys, at the exhibition for the Nürnberger Nachrichten art prize and later on in a Nuremberg garage. The garage owner, who apparently had an urgent need for the storage space taken up by the sculpture, proceeded to recover this space by tearing apart the horse with a chainsaw.

Now in all three cases, the motivation behind these clean-up projects was not to save on taxes. Nevertheless, it is comforting to know that a private homeowner or property owner in 2009 could have deducted the cost of professional services for the removal of artwork from his or her taxes since the enactment of § 35a of the Income Tax Act, with the title “Tax relief for the cost of household-like employment, services and handicraft work.”

Specifically, this statute provides that 20% of the cost paid by bank transfer for household-like employment (e.g. a minimally employed cleaning lady), household-like services (a self-employed building superintendent) and handicraft work (the self-employed master painter) may be deducted from one’s income tax.

So if you find a grease stain in the corner of your room, graffiti on the wall of your house or a little junk in your garage, just hire a professional to remove it. An income tax reduction is certain!

But be careful, it is highly likely that this tax relief will be smaller than the appraised value of the artwork you destroy.

Grease stain: DM 40,000

Rat graffiti: € 800,000

Horse sculpture: € 73,500



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