Alan Shatter among beneficiaries of artists’ tax exemption

Exemption allows artists to earn up to €50,000 on creative work tax free


Ploughing supremo Anna May McHugh, former minister Alan Shatter and a sculptor who made fighter Conor McGregor a chess board out of plumbing supplies were among the writers and artists awarded tax exemptions in the six months to the end of March.

Data obtained from the Revenue Commissioners shows Ms McHugh, director of the National Ploughing Association, received an exemption for her biography, Queen of the Ploughing, published last September. The book was ghost written by Irish Times journalist Alison Healy, who has also qualified for the exemption on her earnings from it.

Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght, authors of bestseller Oh My God What a Complete Aisling, which is being made into a film, also qualified for the exemption, as did Stefanie Preissner, whose Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope TV series returns to RTÉ this week.

Under the scheme, artists can apply for an exemption from income tax (not PRSI or USC) on earnings from an approved work for one year of up to €50,000. However, not all artists will earn enough in a year to benefit from the full tax exemption. The most that can be saved in tax in one year through the scheme is €20,000.

Mr Shatter, a former minister for justice, was also approved for his autobiography, Life Is a Funny Business, as has arts broadcaster Myles Dungan for his collection of Drivetime segments, On This Day: Volume 2.

Sculptor Terry Sweeney, who made a chess board for MMA star Conor McGregor out of plumbing pipes, is also on the list,

Ruth Fitzmaurice, who wrote an account of life after her husband’s MND diagnosis, I Found My Tribe , was also approved for the exemption. Kerry footballer Colm ‘the Gooch’ Cooper’s eponymous autobiography also qualifies, as do earnings for the book’s co-writer, Vincent Hogan, as does David Chambers, known by most as Blindboy Boatclub for his book, The Gospel According To Blindboy.

Rory O’Neill (Panti) was approved for his High Heels In Low Places stand-up show, while a host of scriptwriters on shows such as Ros na Rún and Fair City also availed of the exemption.

Figures for 2015 (latest available) show that the amount of tax relief claimed under the artists’ exemption scheme almost doubled to € 10.8 million, with 2,840 artists successfully applying for the exemption. Based on these figures, the average relief earned in 2015 was €3,802, indicating earnings of €19,010 per artist from a work of art in that year based on a 20 per cent tax rate, or €9,505 based on the higher rate of 40 per cent.