A currency collage by artist Mark Wagner (Photo courtesy Mark Wagner at smokeinmydreams.com)
An Artist Gets Audited
A visual artist I know once told me about an audit she endured with the IRS. My friend is a professional artist in New York City with her own studio. Her work is shown at galleries and museums. She has received grants, been accepted to artist residencies around the world, and every now and then, she even manages to sell a few pieces of artwork.
During the audit, one of the IRS employees explained to my friend that she couldn’t keep declaring a loss for her business year after year. “This looks more like a hobby than a profession,” the auditor said.
My friend attempted to explain the financial ups and downs of being a working artist. Yes. There had been a dry spell in the “income department” in recent years, but her expenses were legitimate. Art was her business, her life, her passion–not a mere hobby. The auditor was completely puzzled. “But if you aren’t making any money creating art,” he asked, “why do you keep doing this year after year?”