Artists' Fair-Market Value Deduction Bills
Making the Case to Congress to Treat Artists Like All Other Taxpayers

In 1969 when Congress repealed legislation allowing artists, writers and composers to take a fair-market value deduction for their works donated to a museum, library or archive, it essentially deprived Americans of their cultural patrimony. As a result, works donated by artists to nonprofit institutions dramatically declined. While artists can no longer donate works for a fair-market deduction, collectors who own those works can take the fair-market value deduction when they donate to a nonprofit institution.

When artists do not have the same incentive to donate that other taxpayers enjoy our heritage is often sold abroad or goes into private collections. For example:

  • Igor Stravkinsky planned to donate his papers to the Music Division of the Library of Congress the month the tax reform act of 1969 was signed into law. Instead, the papers were sold to a private foundation in Switzerland.
  • The Museum of Modern Art in New York received 321 gifts from artists in the three years prior to the repeal, in the three years following repeal the museum received 28 works of art from artists — over a 90% decrease.
  • The biggest loser was the Library of Congress, which annually received 15 to 20 large gifts of manuscripts from authors. In the four years after repeal it received one gift.

Identical bills have been introduced in the House and Senate. Congressmen Amo Houghton (R-Corning, NY) and Ben Cardin (D-Baltimore, MD) introduced H.R. 1598 "Artists' Contribution to American Heritage Act"and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) introduced S. 694 "Artist-Museum Partnership Act". Both bills have broad bipartisan support, with over 50 House members cosponsoring and seven senators. The Senate passed the bill last year, but the House did not accept it.

We urge Congress to:

  • Cosponsor H.R.1598 or S. 694.
  • Ask Reps. Bill Thomas (R- CA), Chair of the Ways and Means Committee and Charles Rangel (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the committee to help move H.R. 1598 to the House floor.
  • Ask Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Chair of Finance Committee and Charles Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Republican on the committee to move S. 694 to the Senate floor.
  • Pass this long-overdue legislation and restore nation’s cultural heritage to the American public.


  1. As federal support for arts and cultural institutions declines, the tax code should encourage donations from our most creative citizens for future generations to enjoy.
  2. Most nonprofit institutions have no acquisition funds to purchase creative works and must rely on donations.
  3. The tax code strives for "horizontal tax equity" — equal treatment to all similarly situated taxpayers. Artists should be treated as any other taxpayer donating a work of appreciated property

CLICK HERE TO WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE AND URGE THEIR SUPPORT OF H.R. 1598 "Artists' Contribution to American Heritage Act" AND S. 694 "Artist-Museum Partnership Act"!