Artists' exemption from income tax
Income earned by writers, composers, visual artists and sculptors from the sale of their work is exempt from tax in Ireland in certain circumstances.
Artistic works can qualify if they are original and creative and are generally recognised as having cultural or artistic merit. Earnings from these works are exempt from income tax, starting from the year in which the claim is made.
There are guidelines on the artistic work that qualifies for tax exemption (pdf) and is original and creative with cultural or artistic merit. The guidelines also set out the categories of work that are eligible for the scheme and the types of work that are not eligible.
To apply for the Artists’ Exemption you must only be resident (or ordinarily resident and domiciled) in:
- One or more countries in the EU
- Iceland, Lichtenstein or Norway
- The United Kingdom
What artistic work can be exempt from tax?
A work can be considered for exemption if it is an original and creative work in one of the following categories:
- Books or other forms of writing
- Musical compositions
- Paintings or other similar pictures
Your work must:
- Be original and creative and
- Have either cultural merit or artistic merit (it is not necessary to have both cultural and artistic merit)
Original and creative work
An original and creative work must be a unique work of creative quality brought into existence by its creator’s imagination.
Cultural or artistic merit
A work has cultural merit if:
- Its quality of form and/or content significantly enhances one or more aspects of national or international culture
A work has artistic merit when:
- Its quality of form and/or content enhances to a significant degree the canon of work in the relevant category
A non-fiction book may qualify for the scheme if it:
- Includes the author’s unique insight into the subject matter and is regarded as a pioneering work and
- Makes a significant contribution to the subject matter by casting new light on it or by changing the generally accepted understanding of it and
- Is in one or more of the following 4 categories:
1. A work in one or more of the following:
- Arts criticism
- Arts history
- Arts subject work (where the subject is visual arts, theatre, literature, music, dance, opera, film, circus or architecture)
- Artists' diaries
- Belles-lettres essays
- Literary translation
- Literary criticism
- Literary history
- Literary diaries
2. A biography or an autobiography
3. A work related to a function or functions of the Heritage Council as described in the Heritage Act 1995
4. A work that relates to archives older than 30 years on Ireland or Irish people and that is based largely on research from such archives
What type of work does not qualify for the exemption?
The following types of work will not be regarded as original and creative or of cultural or artistic merit:
- A book or other piece of writing that is published primarily for students or one that is, or will be, used primarily by students
- A book or other piece of writing that is published primarily as an aid for people engaged in any trade, profession, vocation or branch of learning, or one that is mainly used by them
- Any work of journalism published in a newspaper, journal, magazine, on the internet or on any other similar medium
- Any writing, visual or musical work, or other similar work, created for advertising or publicity purposes
- Adaptations, arrangements, and versions of musical compositions which are not of such musical significance as to amount to original composition
- Types or kinds of photographs, drawings or paintings that are mainly of record, that serve a utilitarian function or that are created primarily for advertising, publicity, information, decorative or other similar purposes
- Types or kinds of works of sculpture that are mainly functional in nature
What payments to artists are exempt from tax?
The following payments are exempt from tax from when they are made to an artist who has received an Artists’ Exemption:
- Payments from the sale of works that are considered eligible under the Artists Exemption scheme
- Arts Council bursaries when paid directly to the artist
- Residencies when paid directly to the individual by the Arts Council for the purpose of producing a qualifying work
- Cnuas payments made under the Aosdana Scheme
- Advance royalties
If an artist receives advance royalties towards the later publication of a book or other piece of writing, they must apply for the Artists’ Exemption in the tax year in which the royalties are paid. When applying for the exemption, the artist must provide confirmation from the publisher that the book will be published. A draft copy of the work must also be submitted.
If an application is received in the tax year in which the advance is received but a decision has not yet been made, any tax due on the advance must be paid. If the application is later approved, the Inspector of Taxes will review the artist's liability and make a refund if tax has been overpaid.
Advance royalties that are paid before the year of claim are not exempt from tax.
You can get further information on the Artists’ Exemption from Revenue.
How much income can be exempt?
How to apply
To apply for the Artists’ Exemption, you should submit a claim form to Revenue, together with samples of your work and any supporting documentation (such as testimonials), that you consider appropriate. You can get an Artists' Exemption Claim Form (pdf) from Revenue.
You will need the following samples and supporting documents for the following categories
- Book or other writing – full electronic version or one published copy of the book
- Play – a copy of the script together with a signed copy of the production contract
- Musical composition – download links or a CD where the claimant is accredited with the music or lyrics, along with any other relevant information
- Painting or other like picture – 6 good quality photographs of work and a brief CV of artistic career to date
- Sculpture – 6 good quality photographs of work and a brief CV of artistic career to date
Where to apply
Applications may be submitted to the Artists’ Exemption Unit by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications can be submitted by post to: