In the hope of spurring Congress to pass a bill allowing artists to take fair market-value tax deductions on works they donate to public institutions, the Art Dealers Association of America is promising to secure donations by 50 artists to museums in 50 states upon the bill's passage. The 50 artists in the program will be selected during the coming year by a committee chosen by the ADAA.
Since 1969, artists, composers, and writers have only been able to deduct the value of the materials in a work or, in the case of writers and composers, a manuscript or set of papers, that they donate to a museum, university, or library. Collectors and heirs, by contrast, can deduct the fair market value of their donations. The bill's advocates argue that this acts as a disincentive to artists considering donating works and puts museums at a disadvantage in the skyrocketing Contemporary art market.
The bill that would redress this, known as the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, has been introduced in both houses in every congress since 2000. Most recently it was introduced in the Senate by Senator Leahy of Vermont, and in the House by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.
The bill has been passed in the Senate at least five times, most recently in February 2006, as part of a larger tax package. It has not been passed in the House. A spokesman for Mr. Leahy said that it was not likely that the bill would be passed in the current term, which comes to a close at the end of 2008.