Comment on Fractional Giving

Pieter Brueghel the Younger (or workshop), "The Payment of the Tithes"
Pieter Brueghel the Younger (or workshop), “The Payment of the Tithes”

Steven Rodgers, a recent graduate of Southern Illinois Law explains the ways in which the tax code subsidizes art museums through fractional giving, from the introduction:

Imagine when you were growing up that your uncle said he would help pay for your favorite collection as long as you allowed the public to view it. It could be baseball cards, stamps, or comics; but nonetheless, your uncle would help pay 30-40% of the purchase price if you met certain conditions. You must store the collectibles purchased with his help separately from other items in your collection. Although the items must be stored separately, you still have complete control over which items will be available for viewing and when they can be viewed. Also, you can trade and sell the items from the collection to add new items, but you cannot retain any profit from these transactions. Therefore, once an item is purchased with your uncle’s help, it must remain in the publicly-available section. Finally, you must publicize that your collection is available for public viewing. Simply placing a few flyers around school that let everyone know when and where your collection can be viewed should suffice. With that framework, nearly every child would take the deal. You get to obtain a larger collection than ever possible with your own money. Under these circumstances, I may have been able to purchase that Mark McGwire rookie card during his prolific 1998 season.

  1. Steven Rodgers, Donate Your Art and Keep It Too: How the Government Subsidizes Art Collections for the Rich and What Congress Can Do about It, 40 S. Ill. ULJ 45 (2015).


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