Is a violin or bow considered an artwork for tax purpose?

February 26, 2023, 2:29 PM · Hi friends,

In order to support local artists, some governments allow businesses to claim a tax deduction for the cost of the purchase or rental when buying local art work.

This is allowed as long the art can be displayed in your personal office or hallway.

I run a small IT business and would love to buy a violin or bow from a local maker for my own playing and don't mind displaying it an my home office as well.

From government perspective, would a violin or bow be considered an artwork?

Replies (16)

February 26, 2023, 3:02 PM · not if you don't want to get audited!!
February 26, 2023, 3:17 PM · Perhaps your accountant could give you an accurate answer. This is not the right place to ask this question.
February 26, 2023, 4:13 PM · My accountant, who once worked for the IRS, told me the more iffy things you try to deduct, the more likely you are to get audited
February 26, 2023, 4:39 PM · It depends on the specifics of the relevant law. Consult a local attorney or accountant.
Edited: February 26, 2023, 4:59 PM · Years ago, after retiring, when I had my own consultancy as a business I included some of my news magazines in my deducted office expenses. IRS audited me for that year (for other reasons) and although I got a pass for the "other reasons" they did not allow those magazines as deductions. It might work for doctor and dental offices but they allowed deductions only for technical journals specifically related to my consulting practice.

It never occurred to me to hang my Voirin bow on the wall!

February 26, 2023, 5:09 PM · I assume you live in the US. If you do not live in the US, then my answer is not relevant. I am also not an accountant or a CPA of any kind. You should always consult a tax professional before you make decisions.

If you are talking about taking a deduction on your schedule C for your IT business, I agree with Lyndon. Don’t do it unless you want to be audited. The tax benefit of such a deduction is not likely to be worth the increased risk of audit, in my opinion.

February 27, 2023, 4:42 PM ·

Seems like you can if you’re a professional musician but not otherwise (in the US).

February 27, 2023, 6:50 PM · Great advices, thank you all.

I am not inclined to take this avenue but it was more out curiosity once this group is very diverse and extremely rich in experience. Much appreciated.

February 28, 2023, 1:52 PM · I would bet money that your idea would *not* hold up in an audit.

The only exception I can see would be if you had a painted, stringless violin bought from an artist, and hung it on the wall.

February 28, 2023, 3:25 PM · This is a case where you definitely want to consult with a tax professional. But having spent time with a very good tax professional trying to figure out how I could do something positive tax-wise with the antique violin and bow that I own, I can tell you that to my knowledge, there aren't really any good options (in the US at least).
March 1, 2023, 6:53 AM · Can you write off your tax-preparer's fee?
Edited: March 1, 2023, 7:17 AM · For the USA from ChatGPT (

To claim a tax deduction for artwork purchased for display in a business, the following limitations and conditions must be met:

Business Use: The artwork must be used in the business or trade of the taxpayer. This means that it must be displayed in a location where it is available for public viewing or used to promote the business. If the artwork is used for personal purposes, such as decorating a private office, it cannot be deducted.

Public Viewing: The artwork must be placed in a location where it is available for public viewing. This means that it must be accessible to customers, clients, or visitors to the business premises.

Cost: The total cost of the artwork must be less than $2,500 per item in order to be eligible for an immediate tax deduction under IRS rules. If the cost of the artwork exceeds $2,500, it must be depreciated over a period of years, typically 7 years for artwork.

Election: Taxpayers can choose to deduct the full cost of artwork that exceeds $2,500 in the year it is purchased by electing to use a special election under IRS rules. This allows the taxpayer to deduct the full cost of the artwork in the year it is placed in service, rather than depreciating it over a period of years.

It is important to note that the rules for deducting artwork in a business can be complex and may vary depending on the specific circumstances. It is recommended to consult with a tax professional to ensure that you are meeting all the requirements and taking advantage of all available deductions.

Edited: March 3, 2023, 11:35 PM · I believe that is a confident hallucination on ChatGPT's part.

Paul, as an individual citizen you can no longer deduct tax preparation fees. Business owners can for their business, though.

March 4, 2023, 6:07 AM · Historically this practice dates back to the 1950s. I remember reading about it in a book on art history. It resulted in a huge boom in prices in the 50s for artists like Picasso, for example.
March 5, 2023, 1:41 PM · I am also Not an accountant. Don't do depreciation on a violin. Maintenance, repair, supplies, expendable items can be deducted on Sch. C. Unlike a carpenter's power tools or a plumber's van, a violin of moderate to high value will hold its value or increase in value. Be mentally prepared to pay capital gains tax when it is sold. Quality violins are expensive because that have multiple values: an inflation hedge as a collectable, an investment, a work of art, a historical artifact, and a tool for the working musician.
March 5, 2023, 5:41 PM · Tax law around artwork has changed repeatedly since the 1950s, Gordon.

Per Joel's comments, your expenses for playing the violin can only be deducted if they are a business expense. Since you (OP) have an IT business, you'd probably have a really tough time justifying that.

For me, whose income these days from music-related stuff is pretty paltry, my ability to usefully deduct much of anything on personal taxes related to music is also pretty limited, even though I itemize all deductions. However, this is definitely a 'talk to your tax accountant' situation.

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