In 2018, an estimated $67.4 billion of art changed hands, nearly half of it-$29.9 billion-in the United States, according to UBS and Art Basel’s The Art Market 2019 report.
That’s despite the loss of what is called a 1031 Exchange, or a “Like-kind exchange,” a provision of the tax code that allowed U.S. taxpaying art collectors to defer taxes if they sold a valuable work and then used the proceeds to buy more art. Under this law, the “Investing in Opportunity Act,” capital gains taxes on certain assets, including art, can be deferred and potentially reduced if the profits are directed toward neighborhoods known as “Opportunity zones.” In other words, the lucky art collector who bought a painting in the 1980s, and who will make millions of dollars in profit selling it this year, could get a substantial break from the Internal Revenue Service if she channels those millions toward economically disadvantaged communities.
“It’s not like the like-kind exchange where you’re selling art and [are] able to reacquire and invest back in the art market directly.” For individual art collectors, they also offer an attractive opportunity to save on taxes and potentially stimulate “Creative capital,” since several opportunity zones in New York State alone are located near burgeoning cultural corridors.
If she reinvested that $10 million in an opportunity zone and held it there for at least 10 years, she could defer paying these taxes until 2026, reduce the size of the gain subject to federal taxation by 15%, and pay no federal taxes on any appreciation in the value of her $10 million investment. There are also opportunity zones on the Lower East Side and in Chinatown, neighborhoods home to many nonprofit and commercial art spaces.