Letter: Tax on art

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The Independent Culture
Tax on art

Sir: It is a pleasure to read your endorsement of the modern art trade, marred only by your opposition to artists' resale royalties ("Monet, money and the envy of our neighbours", 20 January). The east London galleries and many others at the London Contemporary Art Fair courageously promote artists whose reputation is still to be made. None of these galleries faces resale royalties.

What many of these galleries face is a significant tax which was not set by Brussels but by successive British governments. I refer to the full rate of VAT on the import of art works created after 1973, and the requirement to charge full VAT on the work of living British artists.

The previous Conservative government and the current Labour one are united in their opposition to Brussels raising our import tax on pre-1973 art works from 2.5 per cent to 5 per cent. Fine. But both parties are also united in keeping the punitive rate of 17.5 per cent on the work of living artists.

RENE GIMPEL

London E14

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