Letter: VAT on pictures is good news for living artists

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FAR FROM 'the art world' being 'beside itself with fury' ('London's art dealers fear EC hammering will knock the bottom out of their market', 7 February), those with interests in the contemporary visual arts have good reason to support the EC directive against Britain's zero rating on art sales.

Works of arts produced within the past 21 years are subject to 17.5 per cent value-added tax. This is a disincentive to the trade in works by contemporary British artists, and a restriction on their potential income.

Moreover, zero rating at present encourages sales of art from British collections, often for export (albeit through British auction houses). It offers dealers increased profits from the sale of the national heritage, and owners of works of art an unnecessary incentive to sell. Could the Treasury's timing for the suggested sale of the Government collection, coming as it does prior to the charging of VAT to potential purchasers, be in any way related to the EC directive?

Mark Dey

Visual Arts and Galleries


Ely, Cambs