Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Value: $0, Taxes: $40 Million
Commentary Magazine ^ | 7-23-12 | John Steele Gordon

Posted on 07/23/2012 5:15:30 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic

This week’s winner of the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up contest is undoubtedly a front-page story in this morning’s New York Times. When New York art dealer Ileana Sonnabend died in 2007, she left her children a fabulous collection of modern art valued at $1 billion. Her children have already paid $471 million in estate taxes on the collection, being forced to sell off most of it to meet the bill. (This is a beautiful example, by the way, of why estate taxes should be abolished and replaced with a capital gains tax on inherited assets—the collection, an artistic whole in itself, had to be destroyed to pay the taxes due.)

But there is one item in the collection, a work by Robert Rauschenberg that cannot be sold. It contains a stuffed bald eagle and under the terms of the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the 1918 Migratory Bird Act, it is a felony to “possess, sell, purchase, barter, transport, import or export any bald eagle — alive or dead.” The estate, advised by three experts, including one from Christie’s, therefore, valued the work at zero. The IRS decided it was worth $65 million, and is demanding $29.2 million in taxes and $11 million in penalties because the heirs “inaccurately” stated its value.

The trouble, of course, is that the heirs didn’t inaccurately state its value. Anything that cannot, for whatever reason, be sold, is worth zero by economic definition. The value of anything is only what someone else is willing to pay for it. And to pay a dime for this particular artwork would be to commit a federal felony. To sell it for a dime would be to commit a federal felony.

The IRS has an “Art Advisory Panel,” that provides expert advice on the value of art works involved in estates. It was the panel that decided it was worth $65 million. Stephanie Barron, a member of the panel and an art curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, said that, “It’s a stunning work of art and we all just cringed at the idea of saying that this had zero value. It just didn’t make any sense.”

It makes perfect sense and Ms. Barron’s statement is a classic example of the fallacy of the just price, that things have inherent value independent of the marketplace. They may have artistic value, emotional value, religious value, etc. But if they cannot be sold then they have no monetary value because they cannot be converted into money.

The IRS Art Advisory Board, I assume, is made up of art experts. It should add an economist to give the other board members a lesson in economics 101 when necessary. And the IRS should have someone empowered to tell the Bureau, “Are you crazy? This will make us look like idiots, and vindictive idiots at that.”


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: baldeagle; estate; irs; taxes

1 posted on 07/23/2012 5:15:37 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

Inheritance taxes are a Socialist abomination.


2 posted on 07/23/2012 5:17:04 AM PDT by fortheDeclaration (Pr 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation:but sin is a reproach to any people)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

I am afraid I might have give Stephani Barron the bird

Mailed it to her at the LA museum of art, and claimed a tax deduction of $65 million


3 posted on 07/23/2012 5:21:45 AM PDT by silverleaf (Every human spent about half an hour as a single cell)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

The NYT, to it’s credit, printed this story..Our tax system is corrupt and set to get much worse with Obamacare. It is front and center to many of our problems..Please, Congress, change this!


4 posted on 07/23/2012 5:21:53 AM PDT by jazzlite (esat)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

The NYT, to it’s credit, printed this story..Our tax system is corrupt and set to get much worse with Obamacare. It is front and center to many of our problems..Please, Congress, change this!


5 posted on 07/23/2012 5:22:07 AM PDT by jazzlite (esat)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

“This will make us look like idiots, and vindictive idiots at that.”

That’s allots about anyway. The inheritance tax allows them to keep “track” of whether or not everyone is reporting “appropriately” through out their life.....


6 posted on 07/23/2012 5:23:09 AM PDT by mo (If you understand, no explanation is needed. If you don't understand, no explanation is possible.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

$0 value is accurate.

7 posted on 07/23/2012 5:24:07 AM PDT by Casie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: fortheDeclaration
The IRS Art Advisory Board, I assume, is made up of art experts. It should add an economist to give the other board members a lesson in economics 101 when necessary. And the IRS should have someone empowered to tell the Bureau, “Are you crazy? This will make us look like idiots, and vindictive idiots at that.”

Had to laugh at the last statement, reminded me of one of their agents I met once.

8 posted on 07/23/2012 5:24:37 AM PDT by piroque ("In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Casie

$65 million? Wow. I would take it to Europe and get a value....maybe $50. Then sell it and get a refund.


9 posted on 07/23/2012 5:41:20 AM PDT by Vermont Lt (I just hate our government. All of them. Republican and Democrat.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: fortheDeclaration
Inheritance taxes are a Socialist abomination.

Leftists have an especially intense envy about inheritance because it develops in their formative school years. They were excluded by the "rich" kids at school, of which they could never be one. It's a major slap in the face to their vanity.

10 posted on 07/23/2012 5:41:44 AM PDT by Reeses
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Reeses

You may be living in the past. All the leftists I know are wealthy. The ones who aren’t trusties are public service employees.

Back in the day, I recall being shocked to see the parents’ homes of the most ardent Marxists. I saw those homes when the little statists went back there to collect money and steaks from the freezer.


11 posted on 07/23/2012 6:29:25 AM PDT by reformedliberal
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

Our government exists to confiscate wealth. Thats where we are.


12 posted on 07/23/2012 6:46:48 AM PDT by wiggen (The teacher card. When the racism card just won't work.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

I’d say take this to court. However, it would have to be tried in an IRS court, whose judges work for the IRS. So, it would be like Mr. Peanut suing a group of elephants for wrongful death for eating his family, and having Judge Dumbo presiding.


13 posted on 07/23/2012 7:36:35 AM PDT by TheCipher (Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself- Mark Twain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

OK, then DONATE it to the Smithsonian and take a $65million tax deduction


14 posted on 07/23/2012 7:48:38 AM PDT by Mr. K ("The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum [of good]")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

Simple, pay the tax bill in stuffed bald eagles.


15 posted on 07/23/2012 8:25:38 AM PDT by Vide
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

I believe the IRS just stated that they would accept the piece in lieu of $65 million. Let them deal with it.


16 posted on 07/23/2012 8:28:22 AM PDT by Darth Reardon (No offense to drunken sailors)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: reformedliberal
All the leftists I know are wealthy.

Those are limousine leftists and their leftism is a public mask. It's a strategy to deflect envy, retain their wealth, and even enjoy it openly without inciting hatred. It's highly effective, which is why they do it. All leftism is about envy, but in their case it is about envy deflection. They do experience a unique type of envy though: intense envy at those that earn their wealth rather than have it given to them. For that reason they strongly support high income taxes as a barrier for people to work their way to wealth, something they could never do because they were raised as pets.

17 posted on 07/23/2012 8:34:23 AM PDT by Reeses
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

Hide Everything

Double-Will (like double-books)


18 posted on 07/23/2012 8:49:19 AM PDT by libertarian27 (Check my profile page for the FReeper Online Cookbook 2011)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

I have not been able to understand how people in government have a right to take from me something which they had nothing to do with my accumulating it by my toil and sweat beyond a fair amount for those services I voluntarily choose. I know Obama has tried to explain that everything I accumulate happens because all these other people provided opportunity but somehow I missed or didn’t feel the participation of all these other people when I was sweating and needed a drink of ‘helpaid’.


19 posted on 07/23/2012 9:30:34 AM PDT by noinfringers2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: afraidfortherepublic

Take it to sell in a country that doesn’t have it’s head quite so far up its nether regions.


20 posted on 07/23/2012 9:59:07 AM PDT by Iron Munro ("Jiggle the Handle for Barry!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr. K
You raise an interesting point. I wonder if the piece is insured -- and if so, what value is the insurance premium based upon? The owners would have a hard time making the case that it has a value of $0 if it is insured for tens of millions of dollars.

Of course, the whole IRS thing here just gives the owners an incentive to set the thing on fire and file an insurance claim.

21 posted on 07/23/2012 6:19:14 PM PDT by Alberta's Child ("If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson