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August 23rd, 2017
Recent NYS Sales Tax Law Change Affects Art Sales Between Related Entities
On August 14, 2017, the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance issued a Technical Memorandum, TSB-M-17(4)S, which will be of interest to many New York-area art dealers and collectors.
The Technical Memorandum (TM) was issued, in part, to provide guidance regarding certain provisions of New York State's recently-enacted 2017 budget legislation (Part CC of Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2017) that amended how NYS Sales Tax applies to sales of tangible personal property between certain related entities, effective with respect to sales on or after April 10, 2017. Generally, a purchase of tangible personal property with the intention of reselling such property in the ordinary course of the purchaser's business is eligible for the so-called "resale exception" and is not subject to NYS Sales Tax. However, the 2017 NYS budget legislation amended Section 1101(b)(4) of the NYS Tax Law to add an exception to this exception. Under this amendment, the "resale exception" will not apply to any of the following sales of tangible personal property and will be subject to NYS Sales Tax:
- sales to a single-member LLC treated as a disregarded entity for federal income tax purposes (or a subsidiary of such LLC) for resale to its member or owner;
- sales to a partnership for resale to one or more of its partners; or
- sales to a trustee of a trust for resale to one or more beneficiaries of such trust.
The TM illustrates the application of this exception to the resale exception with the following example:
A New York resident creates a single-member LLC that purchases artwork in New York City with the intent to lease the artwork to the single member of the LLC. The LLC is treated as a disregarded entity for federal income tax purposes. The purchase of the artwork by the LLC does not qualify as a purchase for resale and is subject to sales tax at the rate in effect in New York City. In addition, the lease of the artwork by the LLC to its single member is also a taxable sale.
The TM further notes that if the sole member of the LLC in the above example instead were to purchase the artwork directly, without involving the LLC, the purchase would be subject to NYS Sales Tax only once.
By citing as an example the sale of artwork to an LLC intended for subsequent resale to such LLC's sole member, the TM highlights the potential application of the 2017 legislative amendment to the many art dealers and galleries organized either as single-member LLCs, partnerships or, presumably, multi-member LLCs treated as partnerships for income tax purposes that often acquire artworks intended for subsequent transfer to one or more of their partners or members. In this respect, the 2017 legislative amendment of the NYS Tax Law may present a significant trap for the unwary.
While such art dealers and galleries previously were subject to NYS Sales Tax only once when they purchased artworks intended for subsequent resale to one or more of their members or partners, they now are subject to a double dose of NYS Sales Tax upon such purchases and sales.
If you have any questions about the Technical Memorandum, or about other art or tax law matters, please contact Jeffrey Marks at (212) 826 5536 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Amelia Brankov at (212) 826 5574 or email@example.com, Iddo Arad at (212) 705 4822 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or any other member of the Frankfurt Kurnit Art or Tax Groups.
Other Art Law Alerts
Appraisal Relied on by Estate Undervalued Paintings by $1.77 Million
Recently, in Estate of Kollsman v. Commissioner the U.S. Tax Court held that an art collector's estate significantly underreported the value of two artworks for estate tax purposes. The problem: the estate relied on appraisals by an auction house specialist who had an incentive to "lowball" the appraisals to win the right to later auction the works. In addition to this conflict of interest, the court found that the values reported by the estate were unpersuasive because the auction house specialist exaggerated the dirtiness of the paintings and failed to adjust his appraisals after one of the works sold at auction for approximately five times more than the reported value. Here's what you need to know about the case.
April 4 2017
Court Holds Art Advisor Must Pay Collector $1.05MM for Fraud
A New York court has ruled that an art advisor who brokered the sale of a collector's painting and secretly pocketed $1 million will have to pay the money back. Because the dispute turned on the advisor's agreement with the collector and what kind of legal duty the advisor owed to the collector, the case offers valuable lessons for people structuring art transactions. Here's what you need to know.
March 21 2017
New Federal Law Clarifies Foreign Governments’ Immunity in Connection with Art Loans to US Museums
President Obama signed the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act into law on December 16, 2016. This new law clarifies when foreign states and fine art carriers can avoid a lawsuit in the US arising from loans of culturally significant artwork to US museums. The new law is important to museums and fine art carriers, and is expected to encourage art loans by foreign states. Here's what you need to know.
January 10 2017