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Artists' Tax Breaks in Ireland
New York Times, 2005-03-29
Brian Lavery

Artists' Tax Breaks Stir Irish Ire

Names like those of the singers Elvis Costello and Sinead O'Connor and the playwright Conor McPherson on a newly published list of 1,512 musicians, writers and artists exempted from income taxes on their creative work have touched off populist demands in Ireland that they start contributing to the national treasury. The tax break, a legacy of the former prime minister and self-proclaimed aesthete Charles J. Haughey, is widely seen as unnecessary aid to people who already have achieved success. The novelists Frederick Forsyth and Michel Houellebecq, the singer Lisa Stansfield and members of the band Def Leppard all moved to Ireland to take advantage of its provisions. But the Arts Council, a national financing body, said the exemptions are needed to support artists who make less than the minimum wage and whose income varies from one year to another. It said its research found that, in 2001, more than half of the tax-exempt artists earned less than 10,000 euros ($12,900) a year and that 87 percent earned less than 50,000 ($64,000). The policy is to be formally reviewed later this year by Ireland's Department of Finance. BRIAN LAVERY