In Mexico, You Can Pay Taxes with Art

(Photo: unrelated mural via Hajor)

Since 1957, the Mexican government agency responsible for collecting income tax has permitted artists to pay their income taxes by submitting pieces of art. It's the only pay-in-kind income tax system in the world.

It began when David Alfaro Siqueiros, an influential artist, approached a senior government official on behalf of a friend who faced tax evasion charges. The government decided to permit this artist to pay his tax bill with pieces of his own artwork.

The program has been greatly expanded since that time. As a result, the government now possesses 7,000 pieces of art held in public trust. In The Atlantic, Eva Hershaw describes it:

The program is simple—donations are made according to reported sales. If an artist sells between one and five pieces of art in a given year, he or she donates one piece to the federal government. If the artist sells between six and eight pieces, he or she donates two, and so on, with an annual cap of six donations. Only painters, sculptors, and graphic artists can participate, though program administrators are currently considering whether to include performance art as an acceptable means of payment. A committee of artists and curators oversees the donations process to ensure that the art received meets certain quality standards. If the art is of a particularly high caliber, it becomes part of the “national-heritage collection,” which is displayed in a permanent exhibit in Mexico City. All other pieces are divided up and shipped across the country to fill public museums and administrative buildings. Certain pieces are also sent abroad as part of exhibitions coordinated with museums across the world. Last year alone, the program sent Pago en Especie pieces to 13 international galleries.

If you paid your taxes in your own work product, what would you send to the government?

-via The Hairpin

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For a moment, I wondered what the Neatorama bloggers would send in... but now I realize it would end up with half of congress wearing "Game of Thrones" and "Breaking Bad" t-shirts... not that there's anything wrong with that ;)
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