Roche & Cie

Focus on the taxation on works of art in France

01 Mar 2016

Taxation on works of art in France

Acquiring a work of art from a living artist for you or your business a good way to combine taste and support contemporary creation and asset building. Being for pleasure and prestige, works of art are exempt from wealth tax, used for the payment of certain taxes and are easily transferable.

For Individuals

According to Article 855 I of the General Tax Code , the work of art acquisition is not subject to the solidarity tax on wealth (ISF). This tax provision, applicable to both paintings, drawings, gouaches, watercolors, sculptures and bronzes, is a perfect tool to optimize the ISF.

Goods considered as artworks are:

  • Carpets, tapestries executed after the original cartons and controlled by the artist, hand-woven and produced in limited quantities
  • Pictures, paintings and drawings made exclusively by hand, even if it is only copies, excluding industrial designs and manufactured articles decorated by hand
  • Engravings, prints and lithographs drawn boards handmade by the artist, irrespective of the technique and the material used, excluding any mechanical or photomechanical process
  • Enamels on copper and ceramics executed in the artist’s hand and signed by him
  • The original statues and sculptures by the artist. If it comes to sculpture casts made from a cast of the first work, their circulation must be limited and subject to control by the creator
  • Photographs taken by the artist are considered works of art if they are printed by him or under his supervision, signed and numbered and limited to thirty copies, all sizes and mounts.


According to the Tax Administration, antiquities are objects with more than one hundred years of age.

The age of an object does not confer in itself the quality of art. But the administration acknowledges that all objects with more than one hundred years old have, in any event, the object character of exempt antiquity.

Knowing if furniture is old may be proved by any means. The use of an expert is often necessary unless extended belonging to the family patrimony is sufficient proof that the furniture or the seller (an antique dealer, a broker or appointed expert in an auction) provides guidance on its seniority.

The list of objects of more than one hundred years old eligible for exemption is established by the tax authorities. It includes:


  • Antique furniture, frames and woodwork and various ornamental objects (lights, candles, mirrors …)
  • Graphic Arts products: incunabula, books, music (eg, old sheet music and original compositions), maps, prints other than those mentioned above
  • Textiles: carpets and tapestries, as well as hangings, embroidery, lace and other textiles (upholstery, costumes …);
  • Jewelry items excluding jewelry, silverware items (jugs, tankards, cups, candlesticks, dishes, etc.), stained glass, chandeliers and lighting fixtures;
  • Articles of metalwork and locksmith;
  • Showcases of objects: boxes, candy boxes, snuff boxes, tobacco graters, cases, fans and all other parts that could be a coherent collection;
  • musical instruments ;
  • Watches, including mechanisms;
  • Works glyptics (cameos, cut stones), medals and Sigillography (seals, fingerprints and the like).


Collectibles are items that have, generally, a low intrinsic value but derive their interest from their rarity, their grouping or their presentation. Here, there are collections and specimens of zoology, botany, mineralogy or anatomy or collections and specimens of historical interest, ethnographic, paleontological or archaeological, such as weapons, clothing, primitive objects or having belonged to famous men.

What is the tax on capital gains from the sale of works of art?

Upon sale of your object of art, antiques or collectibles for a price greater than € 5,000, any capital gains realized are subject to choice:

    • When the property is sold in the European Union, the transfer is automatically subject to a flat tax of 6% (0.5% CRDS) calculated on the sale price

The transferor may, however, opt for the regime of capital gains from disposals furnished well (34.5% -> 19 + 15, 5%) + a discount of 5% per year beyond Grade 2 -> full exemption after 22 years.

    • When the property is sold in a country outside the EU area, we apply the rules on capital gains from disposal of property furnished.

Note that, there are some exemptions to this device


What are the inheritance taxes on works of art?

For succession, the deceased’s assets are valued at fair value. Exceptionally, the inheritance tax on furnishing furniture (those used for the adornment of an apartment) can be established on the basis fixed at 5% of the estate. Unless it is placed in collections of galleries or special rooms, paintings, art objects or antiques are furnishing and furniture may benefit from this furniture package of 5%. It is one way to limit its value during an inheritance transmission.

Can we pay certain taxes with works of art?

Giving in payment allows you to pay all or part of certain taxes (inheritance tax, gift tax, wealth tax) by the delivery of a work of art in the state. Your work must however be of great artistic or historical value. If the state agrees to the giving, your debt is automatically switched off up to the value of the artwork that incorporates the national collections.

For companies

If you wish to purchase original works by living artists and expose them in your company, you will benefit from tax deductions on income for the year of acquisition and the following four years.

Companies can deduct the profit for the year of acquisition and the following four years, an amount equal to the purchase price. The deduction will be done each year by equal share. This deduction may not exceed 5/1000 of the turnover of the fiscal year.

To qualify for the deduction, the company must disclose in a place accessible to the public or to employees, with the exception of their offices, the property acquired for the period corresponding to the year of acquisition and the four following years.

The company must register in a special reserve account in liabilities an amount equal to the deduction made. This amount is amortized to taxable income in the event of reassignment or transfer of work or out of the reserve account.

The company may establish a provision for depreciation when the depreciation of the work exceeds the amount of the deductions already made under the first and fourth paragraphs.

Companies that decide to acquire national treasures also receive tax benefits.

Contact us for more information.

Cabinet Roche & Cie, chartered accountant in Lyon, France.