€5.8m in tax relief granted to 2,640 artists in 2014

They may have been bitter political rivals, but the late Charlie Haughey has unwittingly done Des O’Malley a favour — by helping the former Progressive Democrat leader save a few euro on his tax bill.

€5.8m in tax relief granted to 2,640 artists in 2014

Mr O’Malley, who challenged Haughey’ leadership of Fianna Fáil in the 1980s before going on to form his own party, is among the latest individuals to be granted artist’s exemption from income tax, a scheme Mr Haughey introduced during his time as finance minister in 1969.

Following an adjustment last year, the scheme allows for the first €50,000 of profits or gains earned by artists from the sale of their work to be exempt from income tax.

Mr O’Malley is one of 163 people to be granted the exemption in the first nine months of 2016, and will not pay tax on profits on the sale of his autobiography, Conduct Unbecoming.

Other notable individuals who received a favourable determination from Revenue so far in 2016 include hotelier and At Your Service host Francis Brennan and former rugby player Tony Ward in respect of books they authored and singer Tommy Fleming, who applied for the exemption for his musical compositions.

The exemption is granted in respect of profits from works spanning books, musical compositions, plays, paintings, photography, and sculptures.

The most recently available figures for the scheme show that €5.8m in tax relief was granted to 2,640 artists in 2014.

A Department of Finance review last year stated that the original intention of the scheme “has been undermined since the exemption has been availed of by works such as biographers of celebrities, politicians and sports persons”.

“A further argument in favour of abolishing the scheme is that it is being availed of not just by low income/ struggling artists but by those who have income other than that returned under the artists’ scheme,” the report found.

However despite noting the “public criticism” and “negative comment” arising from the awarding of the exemption to biographies, the review authors ultimately recommended no changes to the current guidelines.

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