Special Series: 5 Pointz to Art Basel

A Federal Judge Has Ruled That The 5 Pointz “Graffiti Mecca” Must Come Down

In a blow to an emerging art form, Judge Frederic Block will rule that property owners can tear down the “5 Pointz.”  Artists had banded together to prevent the demolition, but Block decided that they lacked any right to stop the bulldozers. The area will soon be razed to create room for luxury, high rise apartments.

5 Pointz: From an Abandoned Building to International Art Scene.

5 Pointz graffiti art
5 Pointz: A morality tale?

For the past two decades, owners Jerry and David Wolkoff have let graffiti artists from around the world use their 200,000 square foot factory building in Long Island as a canvas. The 5 Pointz name for the five-story, block long industrial complex represents the coming together of New York’s five boroughs. The space, however, has outgrown these local roots and evolved into a haven for a burgeoning, international art community. Hip hop, pop and R&B stars, including Doug E. Fresh, Mobb Deep, DJ-JS1, Joan Jett, and Joss Stone, have come to admire its beauty.

More than just a space for artists to ply their trade, musicians, DJ’s, emcees and brake dancers regularly perform at the site. It’s become a flash point for hip hop culture. Filmmakers and photographers document the art works, and tour buses come to soak in the vibrant displays. A volunteer, Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen, has even created a 5 Pointz museum.

Competing Claims of Value

The beginning of the end for 5 Pointz started when a stairwell collapsed in 2009 and caused serious injuries to an artist. City officials investigated and cited the Wolkoffs for code violations, after which they decided to explore options for selling the property. Artists tried negotiating without success to purchase the property, but the Wolkoffs moved ahead with demolition plans. Artists fought back with a lawsuit under the little known Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA).

VARA endows creators with certain “moral” rights to their works.  Moral rights stay with the artist and allow the artists some control over the uses to which their work is put.  Say for example an artist sells a photograph, including the rights to use, sell or reproduce the photograph. The buyer, however, decides to use the photograph in a controversial exhibition insulting religious beliefs.  A country that recognizes true moral rights might give the photographer some recourse against the buyer, even though he sold the economic (i.e. copyright) rights to that buyer.

Some European countries (and Canada) recognize moral rights in much the same manner as they recognize an artist’s economic (copyright) interest in his work.  This is narrower in the U.S., however, which treats moral rights as a separate interest and not part of the traditional rights and remedies under copyright law.  VARA endows creators with the following rights, but only for a narrow class of visual art:

  • The right to claim authorship for their creations (“hey, I did this”)
  • The right to prevent others from attaching the author’s name to works he/she didn’t create (“but I didn’t do that”)
  • The right to prevent others from attaching the author’s name to works that others have alerted or mutilated if that would damage the author’s honor or reputation (“I didn’t do that, and I certainly wouldn’t”)
  • The right to prevent alteration or mutilation to an author’s work that would damage his/her honor reputation (“you can’t make spaghetti of my art”)

If you own the right to protect your work’s “morality,” its dignity or author’s reputation, it’s possible to prevent the destruction of works even when others physically own or have the copyright to it. This is the argument the 5 Pointz artists presented Judge Block. They sought to prove the inherent value of the 5 Pointz art to the community.  Art expert Daniel Simmons examined work by graffiti artist Lady Pink and an awe-inspiring mural of a sleeping woman with headscarf by Chilean artists Dasic Fernandez. In the end, Judge Block recognized “street art” as such, citing Banksy as notable example, but ultimately concluded that VARA protection did not extend to “aerosol works.”

“I’m getting the sense that the traditional academic way of looking at things needs to be updated,” Block said.

From 5 Pointz to Art Basel’s Pubic Art Displays

The 5 Pointz story is fascinating, and it got me thinking about how street art compares with the works that will be on display this year at Art Basel Miami.  The essence of the art is that it shares a space with others who interact with it.  Part of a mural’s beauty is in one’s ability to enjoy it just by walking by.  No gallery, no appointment, no price or admission, just a form of communication between artists and art lover.  Sometimes, however, the canvas – a building in many cases – belongs to others.  It will be interesting to see how courts strike a balance between private property rights and the interests of the public in this type of art form, and whether the U.S. moves towards broader recognition of “moral” rights in art.

Ari Good, JD LLM, a tax, aviation and entertainment lawyer, is the shareholder of Good Attorneys at Law, P.A. He graduated from the DePaul University College of Law in 1997 and obtained his L.L.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida.

Contact us toll free at (877) 771-1131 or by email to info@goodattorneysatlaw.com

Image by Forsaken Fotos

And you?  What do you think?  Should the building owner in 5 Pointz be able to raze the building without any recognition of what it became?  Did the artists assume that risk?  I would value your opinion.

Special Series: The International Art Community’s Annual Winter Bash, Art Basel in Miami

An (Unofficial) Art Basel Visitor Guide

After relocating to Miami this past summer, I’m looking forward to exploring a one of a kind art exhibition in Miami and the sandy white shores of South Beach: Art Basel. Actually, one of a kind is a bit of misnomer. Organizers also host annual Art Basel shindigs in its namesake city, Basel, (a European city on the border between Switzerland, France, and Germany) and Hong Kong at different times of the year. Art Basel/Miami Beach 2013 is the 12th edition of this art gala and has grown up into a sprawling maze of eye candy for connoisseurs of the visual arts and the curious.

What is Art Basel?

Art Basel traces its beginnings to three visionary art gallery owners in 1970. They created an event for artists and galleries alike to exhibit contemporary and avant-garde pieces from around the world. Throughout the years, the Art Basel production has grown from 90 involved galleries, 30 publishers of art from 10 countries, and 16,300 visitors to its present size across three cities. 50,000 visitors alone came to Art Basel/Miami Beach alone last year.

A truly international event, Art Basel 2013 will showcase contemporary art from across the globe. Art galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa are coming to town and have historical works from masters of Modern art and newly minted pieces by emerging stars in tow. Painting, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs, films, and edited works of great quality are on the menu. Live performances and music are planned as well to create a fully immersive experience.

Things to See and Do At Art Basel

Art Basel Miami at Convention Center
Soon to be chock full ‘o contemporary art

The invitation only events begin December 4, 2013, and opens to the public from Thursday, December 5 through Sunday, December 8. Doors open, figuratively speaking, at noon each day and close at 8pm (6pm on Sunday).

The main event will take place at the Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) and will be divided into eight different areas:

  • Galleries – Art works from undiscovered artists through museum quality pieces.
  • Nova – Individual galleries showcase new works from the past 3 years from 1-3, hand selected artists from around the world.
  • Positions – A single artist presents one major project.
  • Edition – Special presentations of editioned works, prints, and multiples (think Andy Warhol) by renowned artists
  • Kabinett – Curated exhibitions of art that have their own space to showcase specific themes.
  • Public – Outdoor sculptures, interventions, and live performances. No ticket required!
  • Film – Films by and about artists.
  • Magazines – Art publications from around the world.

Public artworks are located at nearby Collins Park and nearby beaches. Video works will be presented inside the MBCC and also in the outdoor setting of SoundScape Park.

Art Basel will also organize three different series for visitors to go beyond just viewing artworks.

  • Conversations – Morning discussions by prominent members of the international art world.
  • Salon – Short presentations that include artist talks, panels, lectures, and performances with the artists, academics, curators, collectors, architects, art lawyers, critics, and others.
  • Video Archive – Videos of archived “Conversations” from Art Basels in years past.

Art Basel will be offering more specific details, including a show guide and floor plan when they become available. You can that information here.

Art Basel Creates a Synergy in Miami

The Beach doesn’t get to claim the entire event. There will be “satellite” art fairs going on before, during, and after Art Basel citywide. A large part of it will be take place across the causeways in Midtown and the Wynwood Arts Districts of Miami. Three large structures in Midtown will be home to the works of contemporary artists from all over the world, further cementing this area’s place as the go-to arts center of the city.

Here are some of the satellite art fairs that have got my attention:

  • New Material Art Fair – This 1st edition fair features experimental works that push the boundaries of traditional contemporary art. Eva Hotel, December 5-8.
  • Brazil Art Fair – A showcase of art works from Brazilian galleries. Midtown, December 4-8.
  • Interactive Art Fair – A fair that focuses on immersing the onlooker with the artworks. 1035 N Miami Ave, December 3-8.

 

Just getting to all the shows could become a full time job!

Certainly these events show Miami as a hub for artistic expression, visual and otherwise. AB/MB also brings light that there is more to the art scene than just creating. It is about the experience.

Ari Good, JD LLM, a tax, aviation and entertainment lawyer, is the Shareholder of Good Attorneys At Law, P.A. He graduated from the DePaul University College of Law in 1997 and received his LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida.

Contact us toll free at (877) 771-1131 or by email to info@goodattorneysatlaw.com.

Actor Stephen Baldwin Forks Over Another $100K In Back Taxes to New York

Stephen Baldwin Paid Another $100,000 To New York; Tab Still At $243,068

Actor Stephen Baldwin, of “Celebrity Apprentice” and the “The Usual Suspects” fame, exited a courthouse last week another $100,000 lighter in the wallet.

Back Taxes
If only it was $200 in back taxes

The 47 year-old actor’s tax troubles began with an criminal investigation by New York’s Tax Department and District Attorney, Thomas P. Zugibe. Their inquiry uncovered his failure to file state income tax returns from 2008 to 2010. Back taxes due to the state of New York at the time were over $300,000, including penalties and interest. Police arrested Baldwin in December of 2012 and prosecutors charged him with the felony of “Repeated Failure to File Personal Income Tax Returns.”

Baldwin ended up pleading guilty to the felony charge in March of 2013. He also agreed to pay $400,000 in restitution within one year as part of a plea deal. The arrangement gives him a conditional discharge and no jail, but only if he keeps his end of the bargain. Baldwin, including a prior $100,000 payment, has now paid the State $200,000. District Attorney Zugibe, however, intends on asking Judge Apotheker to jail Baldwin if he can’t meet his March 2014 deadline to pay the entire $400,000 in restitution.

Due to the magic of interest and penalties, New York State Tax Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox also announced that Baldwin still owes $243,068 in back taxes.

Bad Tax Advice

Baldwin claims that his dirty deed was the result of “some really bad suggestions and advice” from lawyers and accountants, according to the New York Post. Commissioner Mattox publicly responded to Baldwin’s dilemma by noting that his Tax Department can arrange installment payment agreements to help people voluntarily resolve back taxes and avoid criminal prosecution.

We work diligently with taxpayers to address issues before they escalate [into criminal charges]. If you have a tax debt, don’t hesitate—take action and contact us to resolve your sitaution.”

Solutions for Back Taxes

Florida residents don’t have to worry about being in Baldwin’s shoes. Florida doesn’t collect state income tax (there are other state taxes, though). Commissioner Mattox’s advice, however, still rings true when it comes to federal income taxes. Short on manpower, the IRS has promoted tax resolution options for unpaid, federal tax debt. The IRS recently made these options more appealing to entice delinquent taxpayers.

Owing back taxes won’t often lead to criminal prosecution. As the Baldwin case illustrates, though, penalties and interest will continue to grow a taxpayers debt until it’s paid off. Ignoring tax debt only makes the problem worse.

Ari Good, JD LLM, a tax, aviation and entertainment lawyer, is the Shareholder of Good Attorneys At Law, P.A. He graduated from the DePaul University College of Law in 1997 and received his LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida.

Contact us toll free at (877) 771-1131 or by email to info@goodattorneysatlaw.com.

Updated Florida Form to Report Sales and Use tax on Aircraft

Florida Introduces New Form to Report Sales and Use Tax on Aircraft

The Florida Department of Revenue (FL DOR) has updated its reporting form on the sale and use of aircraft in Florida. Form DR-15AIR (Sales and Use Tax Return for Aircraft) replaces Form DR-42A (Ownership Declaration and Sales and Use Tax Report on Aircraft). The new form provides explicit guidance on when to report taxes on the sale and use of aircraft in Florida.

When Form DR-15AIR Should be Used.

An individual should report sales and use tax on the purchase of aircraft when they don’t pay Florida’s sales tax to the seller. Form DR-15AIR clarifies the three (3) situations when an individual should instead pay a 6% “use” tax:

1.  An individual purchases an aircraft from a person who is not a registered aircraft dealer and the sale or delivery of the aircraft occurs in Florida;

2.  An individual purchases an aircraft in another state, territory of the United States, or District of Columbia and is brought into Florida within six months of the purchase date; or

3.  An individual purchases an aircraft in a foreign country and is brought into Florida at any time.

This use tax is in addition to any county discretionary sales surtax. The discretionary sales tax applies to the first $5,000 of the purchase price and rates vary by county.

When Sales and Use Tax is Due.

Florida Sales and Use Tax
. Taxes Not Included

Florida’s use tax is technically due when an individual brings an aircraft into Florida for use or storage. The corresponding tax returns and tax payments, however, are due only on the 1st day of the month after the actual month when:

1.  The airaft was purchased in Florida;

2.  The aircraft was delivered to a Florida location; or

3.  The aircraft enters Florida for use or storage.

The tax returns and tax payments are late if coming after the 20th in the month they are due. Late returns and payments are penalized a minimum of $50 or 10% of the amount due, whichever is less. Interest is dues on late payments as well.

Exceptions to Sales and Use Tax.

Exceptions to Florida’s sales and use tax on aircraft continue to apply, including:

1.  The value of an aircraft, boat, mobile home, or motor vehicle an individual trades in reduces the taxable purchase amount. The person accepting the trade in and selling the aircraft must be the same.

2.  An individual removes an aircraft purchased in Florida from the state within 10 days after the date of purchase, or 20 days after completion of repairs or alterations.

3.  A credit for taxes pad in another state, territory of the U.S., or Washington D.C. No credit is available for taxes paid in another country.

4.  An exemption from the tax for non-residents of Florida when their aircraft enter and remain in Florida for 20 days or less during the six-month period after aircraft purchase. This exemption also applies to non-resident owned aircraft that enter Florida for the purposes of flight training, repairs, alterations, refitting, or modification.

Ari Good, JD LLM, a tax, aviation and entertainment lawyer, is the Shareholder of Good Attorneys At Law, P.A. He graduated from the DePaul University College of Law in 1997 and received his LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida.

Contact us toll free at (877) 771-1131 or by email to info@goodattorneysatlaw.com.

Tax Implications of SCOTUS’ DOMA Decision

Tax Implications of U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision on Same Sex Marriage (DOMA)

Surviving Spouse of Same-Sex Marriage Sues U.S. Government over Taxes

Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer were lawfully married in 2007 in Ontario, Canada but lived in New York. Spyer died two years later and left her estate to Windsor. Windsor attempted to claim a the “surviving spouse” exemption from the death tax when Spyer passed. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), however, prevented her from taking the exemption. The term “spouse,” according to DOMA, applies only to the marriage between a man and woman. The IRS relied upon DOMA to rule that the surviving spouse exemption did not apply to Windsor, no matter where she married. Windsor ended up with a $363,053 death tax bill, causing her to sue the federal government.

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA’s Definition of “Spouse”

SCOTUS DOMA Decision
SCOTUS’ DOMA Decision Provides New Tax Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

The U.S. Supreme Court heard Windsor’s case and ruled that DOMA’s definition of “spouse” violated a myriad of Constitutional principles. The Court’s decision authorized same-sex couples, who are legally married, to claim the surviving spouse exemption. The U.S. Treasury Department and IRS changed its tax policy as a result of the decision. They will recognize same-sex married couples as married for federal tax purposes.  This is true even if the couple moves to a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. This treatment applies to all federal taxes, not just the surviving spouses exemption.

Tax Implications of Federal Recognition of Married Same-Sex Couples

The U.S. v. Windsor case will provide a number of new tax benefits for same-sex couples:

  • Annual Gift Tax Exemption: An individual can give another person up $14,000 (as of 2013) without tax consequences. The gift can be cash, property, or other assets. Anything above $14,000 must be reported to the IRS. Married couples, however, may give unlimited amounts to their spouse without tax consequences.
  • Death Tax Exemption: An individual can leave a non-spouse up to $5.25 million upon their death without tax consequences. A married individual, however, can leave their spouse an unlimited amount without tax consequences.
  • Unified Credit: Tax law combines the annual gift tax exemption and death tax exemption to create the “Unified Credit.” Untaxed amounts given annually as a gift count towards the $5.25 million that is exempt from the death tax. Married couples, however, don’t face limits on annual or lifetime gifts or transfers of property to the spouse. This includes the Unified Credit limitation.
  • Portability of Marital Exemption: The unused portion of $5.25 death tax exemption passes from the deceased spouse to the surviving spouse. This means a surviving spouse can give up to $10.5 million before the death tax kicks in (depending on how much of the death tax exemption the deceased spouse used).
  • Gift Splitting: A gift by a married individual only counts 50% towards the annual gift tax exemption. The IRS treats the married couple as a single tax entity when it comes to this exemption. This means a married individual can give up to $28,000 without tax consequences. Their spouse, though, could not give any amount as a gift that particular year without facing tax consequences.

Ari Good, JD LLM, a tax, aviation and entertainment lawyer, is the Shareholder of Good Attorneys At Law, P.A. He graduated from the DePaul University College of Law in 1997 and received his LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida.
Contact us toll free at (877) 771-1131 or by email to info@goodattorneysatlaw.com.