IRS: Scrounging Through the Seat Cushions



Ed Krayewski referenced it in the Morning Links, but this New York Times article about the Internal Revenue Service demanding $29 million for a piece of art that cannot legally be sold deserves a longer, more painful look. Excerpt:

The object under discussion is "Canyon," a masterwork of 20th-century art created by Robert Rauschenberg that Mrs. Sonnabend's children inherited when she died in 2007.

Because the work, a sculptural combine, includes a stuffed bald eagle, a bird under federal protection, the heirs would be committing a felony if they ever tried to sell it. So their appraisers have valued the work at zero.

But the Internal Revenue Service takes a different view. It has appraised "Canyon" at $65 million and is demanding that the owners pay $29.2 million in taxes.

"It's hard for me to see how this could be valued this way because it's illegal to sell it," said Patti S. Spencer, a lawyer who specializes in trusts and estates but has no role in the case.

As we gear up for a week of largely phony fiscal cliff/debt ceiling/tax cut politics, this story is a timely reminder that when the federal government is borrowing 40 cents on every dollar, not only is it a reflection of deep political mismanagement and cowardice, but it's a virtual license for the I.R.S. to go scrounging through your pockets, regardless of fairness or plain common sense.

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  1. May the wings of liberty never lose a feather.

    1. Question: Is the inheritance tax based on the value of an item inherited, or is it based on the capital gain (appreciation)of the item? For example is this possible:

      The inheritor in question must pay $29million tax on the so-called value of $65million. Sometime in the future, when this new owner dies, the next inheritor will then pay $35million on some inflated value $80-ish million. When this new owner dies….etc.

      Is this the golden IRS goose, er, Eagle?

  2. How in the hell would an IRS clod have any earthly idea how much a work of art is worth?

    1. They have a panel. You know, an art panel. That creates value for things that have no market whatsoever.

      1. I wonder how much they would say “Merda d’artista” is worth.

  3. Fuck you, that’s why.

    1. This article has me angrier than most. This is just fucking evil.

      1. Shakedown by the protection racket always dismays.

  4. IRS–it’s Antique Road Show in reverse.

  5. “If you’ve got an art panel, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen,”

    1. If you enacted legislation, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a lobbyist somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in campaign contributions and bribes.If you have a government, you didn’t build that. You had to have a giant pile of wealth to loot. Somebody else made that happen.

  6. Perhaps they should just give the artwork to the IRS. It’s worth twice as much as they owe, right?

    1. That’s a great idea. Then watch the confusion ensue when they try to auction it off.

      1. Oh, please, let it happen.

        1. Oh don’t be silly, those laws don’t apply to the IRS. There would be no confusion.

      2. Plus the added bonus that they can demand a $35.8 million refund. Watch IRS heads explode when they have to cut that check.

    2. That IS an elegant solution– pay the IRS with the artwork itself, then request the overpayment amount as a refund.

      1. +several million

        1. Perhaps a law that once the govt has formally assessed an object as worth x dollars, it must accept a donation of that object as equivalent to the payment of x dollars.

      2. I’m pretty sure the IRS only accepts US Dollars for debt payment.

        If the art owners are rich, then they have to pay 29 megadollars to keep their own property. If they aren’t rich then they have to either donate the art or settle for bankruptcy.

        It’s a mad world, my masters.

        1. I’m pretty sure the IRS only accepts US Dollars for debt payment.

          You mean they wouldn’t accept gold?

          1. Nope. USD only. Feel free to use a credit card or to take out a home-equity loan, though, as long as it’s in USD.


        2. Donate it to a museum. Because museums have people who can value art, and would know the value. Have them value it at say, $65 million and take that as a deduction. Imputed values is evil, and the IRS does it all the time.

          1. Except that the deductions are limited.

            1. Yes, but IIRC they are limited by gross income. I do not know how much income they have, but I would think it would be substantial. Does not help that it is part of an estate. The estate trustee screwed up by not getting a letter from the IRS explaining how they would deal with this before death.

          2. If they can’t sell the art, they may not be able to donate it either. We’d have to check the wording on the law.

            1. It forbids all possession and even transport. They’re grandfathered, but the recipient wouldn’t be.

        3. The IRS must have some process for taking property when cash isn’t forthcoming.

          1. The IRS must have some process for taking property when cash isn’t forthcoming.

            It normally consists of them seizing assets and selling them off to cover your tax bill.

            1. They’d probably seize some other asset if the owners didn’t pay, I suppose. How effed up.

              1. You are right. Start with marketable assets and work from there. So most likely they would end up with no assets, except for the “art.”

        4. If the art owners are rich, then they have to pay 29 megadollars to keep their own property. If they aren’t rich then they have to either donate the art or settle for bankruptcy.

          Donating the art doesn’t do away with the inheritance tax, which is assessed when they inherit, regardless of what they do to with the art.

          1. I have a thought: Donate it to His Excellency, the President of the United States.

          2. True. They’d have to have income to deduct from. Most likely they’ll just have to sell some other piece of art from the collection in order to pay the tax on this piece.

    3. Much simpler to destroy it, and the casualty loss deduction more than covers the tax. AFAICT their possession of it is grandfathered, the statute not even allowing them to trasmport it. Apparently the statute did not provide for just compensation for confiscating such items, so by the 5th Amendment they have to be allowed to continue to own y possess it. It’s like when you possess a material that during that time becomes a controlled substance (narcotic, refrigerant, etc.) — you get to keep it, just can’t transfer it without permission.

      1. Actually they should just destroy the bird, then sell the rest of the piece.

  7. federal government is borrowing 40 cents on every dollar … it’s a virtual license for the I.R.S.

    Oh c’mon Matt. Talk about a non-sequitur. As if the IRS wouldn’t always pull these stunts.

  8. If the banks can mark to fantasy, so will the IRS.

    How long has this eagle been dead anyway?

    1. Ever since it wore itself out carrying those two fat hobbits home from Mordor.

      1. That brings up another question; why didn’t they just fly the eagles to Mt. Doom in the first place instead of walking the whole way?

        1. One does not simply fly into Mordor!

        2. Because the eagles didnt give a fuck about the ground politics.

        3. They couldn’t get their flight plan approved by the FAA.

        4. Eagles work for pay. The Fellowship of the Ring needed to overthow two governments to get enough coin together to pay for one little eagle flight.
          Eagles: Mercenaries of the Sky.

        5. Implicit in the stories was indirect divine intervention (arguably not all indirect, given the nature of the wizards). So the idea was probably that people had to do it, since they were responsible for the mess in the first place. Or something like that.

          1. Plus the eagles would probably have missed the Crack of Doom, even if they got through the Mordorian Anti-Aircraft batteries. Precision bombing was not a concept with which Tolkien was familiar – he was writing during and right after WWII, when hitting the right *city* was considered close enough for a bomber.

        6. Eye of Sauron. Bla blabla.

          1. Eye of Sauron. Bla blabla.

            This is pretty much how I’ve heard Tolkien fan-boys explain it. It’s horseshit, of course. Per a Tolkien wiki dealing with the eagles, it just never occurred to him. As for the Nazgul intercepting the Eagles, I don’t see it. Help me out, but they don’t get their flying mounts til much later in the story, otherwise wouldn’t they have just flown to the Shire?

            Not like that’s the only plot hole in LOTR. We were re-watching the first movie last night, and I’m still shaking my head at several of the very unlikely escapes of the hobbits from the Nazgul. Great story though.

            Really, IMHO, Tolkien should’ve just let Sam and Frodo die on the slopes of Mt. Doom. Let Merry and Pippen scour the Shire.

            1. I don’t see it as a hole. Sauron wasn’t exactly weak, so there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t have air supremacy in Mordor. Sure, it would’ve been better to address it overtly, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume it wasn’t an option. Sneaking into Mordor with a couple of hobbits was just crazy enough to work.

              1. I don’t recall there being many flying critters in LOTR, besides the eagles, the Nazgul’s later mounts, and Smaug. To address the wiki’s concerns about arrows, just fly at night. Or hell, higher than 300 ft AGL would work. And even if you can’t ‘simply fly into Mordor’ (insert tumblr meme here), you can get a lift most of the way there.

                I think Occam dictates that Tolkien just didn’t think of it, until he needed a deus ex machina to pull Frodo/Sam’s chestnuts out of the fire, and by then it was a little late. A bit inexcusable, considering Gandalf’s escape from Orthanc, but what can you do? I think Tolkien could have addressed it by throwing in a paragraph at the Council of Elrond about how The Eye sees the Ring much easier high in the air as opposed to on the ground, Gandalf felt The Eye on him while he was riding the eagle’s back, etc…

                1. I agree, he should’ve addressed with the prominent use of the eagles in LOTR and The Hobbit. But it’s not that big of a deal. Sauron was crazy distracted by the various successes of the good guys, not to mention them coming to the gates, possibly with the Ring, so anything happening then might get past the Eye, where it wouldn’t have before.

                  1. I’ve successfully outed all of you as Tolkienites. Now crawl out of your parents’ basements and get a tan! MUAHHAHAHA! (Insert Sarcasm Here)

                    1. I’d agree, except for the many tens of millions who watched the movies.

    2. They have documentation that the eagle was stuffed by a Rough Rider who served under T Roosevelt. The possession was grandfathered in under the law, but they still aren’t allowed to sell it.

      1. Historical? Can’t they have it designated as some sort of national monument or something? Build a park around it?

        1. Then they lose the value of even more of their property!

  9. What would be the tax ramifications if they burned it in protest.

    1. Or if it were accidentally eaten by mice?

      1. What would happen if it had been bequeathed to the IRS? Would it create a causality loop that would suck the IRS into a vortex of infinite self taxation?

      1. Casualty, not capital.

  10. Also think about the idiocy of the inheritance tax, even if the artwork COULD be sold.

    Its value is only $65 Million if it is sold. If it is inherited 4 times, and assuming no inflation, the IRS will try to collect $120 million on an item worth only $65 Million.

    1. I’m gonna go with Feature, not Bug, on that one.

    2. That’s an excellent reason to destroy it.

      “We are unwilling to burden our children with a piece of art that can only cost them millions of dollars. We cannot sell it, and we cannot in good conscience keep it and pass it on to our children. The IRS leaves us no option but to destroy it.”

      Of course, the tax was already incurred when they inherited it, so it doesn’t get them off the hook for that.

    3. The same applies to income tax, doesn’t it(?)– a dollar changes hands countless times throughout the year, and the IRS collects tax on it each time.

  11. Wouldn’t a dead armadillo have been much better?

    1. ‘Til some freak kid from down the way breaks its hands off.

  12. The more of this kind of nonsense the better. As long as the majority of the population doesn’t pay any meaningful form of income tax, the IRS will continue to operate with impunity. The more people are made aware of these kinds of shenanigans, the less likely the IRS will be able to continue business as usual in the future.

    1. Huh? I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that heirs to artwork worth $65 million have already had plenty of experience paying up to the IRS. But yeah, fuck them…because, somehow, this is going to spread awareness of IRS malfeasance. What a maroon.

      1. My reference to “more of this kind of nonsense” was more stories about the IRS and their tactics not more “malfeasance” by the IRS. If that was not clear to your feeble mind, then i apologize and shall endeavor to dumb down my comments for your sake.

        On that note… maybe you should jerk off more and release some of that tension rather than incorrectly assuming your superiority and making and ass of yourself.

  13. The + IRS = THEIRS

  14. This story strikes me as odd.
    Round here some restaurant had a stuffed bird as a decoration, an eagle or owl (or something), that was prohibited under the Migratory Bird Act (or something).
    I don’t remember the specifics and don’t feel like looking them up.
    Anyway, the thing was confiscated (and most likely decorates some corrupt agent’s home) and I think they were still issued a hefty fine for their ignorance (and lack of connections).

    1. The artist and family had documentation that it was stuffed before the law was passed. It was grandfathered in for possession.

  15. I want to see the comps that support the appraised value.

    1. Got a FOIA request?

      I’m thinking this will turn into delays and threats until they end up giving the “art” to the IRS, who will illegally sell it and make less dollars then they spent to get it.

      1. if it were mine, I’d destroy it and take a $65 million write off to reduce the tax on the remainder of the inheritance.

    2. Stupid IRS. The deficit could be eliminated if they’d just value the thing at $700 trillion.

  16. I can say expertly that that thing is worth zero dollars to me.

    1. It has negative value to me. You’d have to pay me to take it.

      1. I was thinking the same thing. It looks like an 8th grader’s history collage. If you paid me to take it, I would assume it was to cover the trash bill.

      2. Add another vote for this.

        1. It’s a Rauschenberg: of course it’s shit. The local museum (a great one to visit if you’re ever in Houston, incidentally) has a ton of his stuff. Now, I like a lot of modern art, and am willing to meet the artist half way towards trying to understand their message, but I’ve found most of his assemblage pieces to be utter shit. There’s no craft, no discernible point to the composition, no meaningful delineation of space: it’s just a bunch of junk—usually cardboard, IME—thrown together.

          When I can’t tell the difference between your art, and a junkpile, the problem might just be with the artist. That said, hey, if it were legal to sell, and somebody was willing to give me $65M for it, I’m not going to turn it down.

          I’m not even sure if donating the artwork gets them out of Dodge. IANA(CPA), but I didn’t think you could deduct the full value of a charitable deduction from your gross income. Even if you formed a partnership with others who had enough GI to utilize the deduction, I don’t think you get enough of a tax break to offset the initial inheritance tax hit.

          Just ridiculous that they can baldly state a value for an item with no market, and that is illegal to sell.

          1. Rauschenberg is a genius – if you can’t discern the diff between artwork and a pile of junk it’s your loss.

            Get back to your soulless cable TV, HampersandR dudes. I had to spend a weekend in Fargo ND with nothin’ to do but watch HBO and other brain-aborting channels.

            1. look at the picture. The only thing in it besides the eagle is a bunch of old newspapers and I think a string.

              1. If it’s so easy, why not do it better and post a link so we can herald your genius?

                It’s kind of like saying “Grandmaster Flash? All he’s doing is looping funk samples and talking over them.”

            2. I’m with you Mongo. Rauschenberg is one of my favorites. His style combining collage and abstract painting has become one of the most influential.

              1. Here’s a link to pictures of some of Rauschenberg’s work. (Only one cardboard piece, unfortunately.) Judge for yourself.

                If we’re drawing the cutoff for influential painter of the last 50 years, I’d go with Warhol instead, for his commentaries on the commoditification of art, celebrity and media. I have a soft spot for the structural exploration of Oldenburg and an embarrassing affinity for Hockney’s palette and cool aesthetic.

                Perhaps Proprietist is right, and time will reveal Rauschenberg to be a genius, as Stravinsky and Picasso were. I hope to live long enough to see it. I certainly appreciate the latter two.

                As to, “If it’s so easy, why don’t you post a link?” Really? This is what you’re going with? Am I required now to be able to hit an MLB fastball in order to say that the Astros utterly suck at doing so? (They do, and are on pace to lose 105 largely because of it.) If being able to do the achievement in question is a prerequisite to commenting on it, this board for one, will get very quiet, very quickly.

                1. Hockney is way cool.

          2. How do you think items become collectible? It ain’t their esthetic value. So, remove the bird (the only part keeping it from being saleable), and with all the publicity this piece has now gotten, it’ll fetch a good price. It’ll be less than IRS’s valuation, so take a nice casualty loss on the difference between that and the sales price plus the value of the bird. A big win all around, except for IRS.

  17. That doesn’t look like any bald eagle I’ve ever seen, but doing a DNA test on the bird is probably a felony.

    1. It is over 100 years old, I imagine it looks pretty ratty by now.

    2. Hard to tell from the pic, but I’m guessing it was a juvenile or an immature (bald eagles don’t get the white head and tail feathers until they’re 4-5 years old).

  18. The entire original art collection was valued at over 1 billion dollars. The family has had to sell off much of it to pay the 400 million or so in taxes. They balked on paying the taxes on this since to rational people it has no value.

  19. Even if they donated it to a charity, it would take 140 years for them to recover the 29 million on their tax forms.

  20. If the IRS thinks it is worth $65M, then the IRS should be required to purchase it at that price, at the election of the owner.

    1. I actually really like this idea. Same thing for stuff like property assessments by your local government.

      1. I agree, but its open to abuse.

        Guy has property worth $150k. Appraiser appraises it at $200k. He refuses to pay tax at that level so elects to sell.

        Kicks back $25k to appraiser.

        1. Bribery of Government officials is always a possibility- don’t see how this proposal presents any special risk.

  21. From the NY Times story:
    “Even then, the government revisited the issue in 1998. Rauschenberg himself had to send a notarized statement attesting that the eagle had been killed and stuffed by one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders long before the 1940 law went into effect. Mrs. Sonnabend was then able to retain ownership as long as the work continued to be exhibited at a public museum.”

    So not only can they not sell it, they also can’t even display it for themselves. In what sense do they even own it?

    1. It’s a National Treasure!

    2. They can point at it and proudly say “I own that”.

    3. Ownsership has a different meaning to the government than to you or me.

    4. In the sense that fuck you, give us money.

    5. The same way you own your house.

      1. so far, no one has come in and demanded to use my toilet as a public restroom, so I’m doing a little better than this eagle.

      2. There are of course restrictions on my use of my house, but currently I’m allowed to sell it and allowed to live in it. So I have some pretty substantial rights in it. These guys seem to have no rights at all in the eagle- they can’t sell it, they can’t give it away, they can’t put it in their homes, they can’t put it somewhere else they like to put it (unless that happens to be a public museum).

  22. “Canyon,” a masterwork of 20th-century art

    Looks like crap to me. The heirs are getting what they deserve by perpetuating a fraud. Not that the IRS is not a bunch of pencil-pushing poopy-pants.

    1. Apparently some people in the art world think it has artistic value so how are the heirs perpetuating a fraud?

      1. Did you see it?

        1. Yes. I think it’s crap too, but that doesn’t mean the heirs are perpetuating a fraud.

      2. Anyway, what I deposited in my toilet bowl this morning has artistic value too. I just have to con a few critics into agreeing with me. Anybody here want to see it?

        1. Been done. Sorry.

    2. It looks worse than something I would expect a 5 year old to do.

      1. Hillbilly heathen! The New York Times called it “a masterwork of 20th-century art.” All the best critics agree. Who are you to challenge all the best critics?

        1. Someone with eyes?

          1. I’ll defer to renowned art critic DesigNate, who famously said, “Oh I get it, you’re one of those people who think that if YOU don’t think it’s art, then it isn’t,” after he said, “Yes. I think it’s crap too.”

            1. You’re a fucking idiot if you don’t understand that your subjective taste don’t get to determine if someone is “perpetuating a fraud”.

              Seriously, what’s so hard to understand that you and I thinking it’s crap doesn’t mean we get to determine if it is art or not to everyone else? And it definitely doesn’t mean we get to go around accusing people of fraud cause we don’t like something.

              1. The owners state the value is $0, so they are not trying to defraud anybody. It is the IRS who is trying to commit fraud by overapraising the value of the item.

    3. Again, do it better and post a link so we can marvel at how easy it is.

      You are aware that Rauschenberg is arguably the most influential painter of the past 50 years, right?

      1. And I’m sure many people said that Picasso was crap too based on how inaccurate his paintings were. And how Stravinsky’s compositions didn’t sound like “music”.

        1. Some Picassos are good, but a lot are crap. I never heard any boring Stravinsky — earaching, maybe, but not boring.

          1. The best Picasso art ever was the napkin Jon Lovitz (while playing Picasso on SNL) used to blow his nose, then autographed to pay for his dinner. 🙂

  23. I thought income tax was evil, but it pales in comparison to the government trying to get its dirty fucking hands on something you inherited. Fuck Warren Buffet with a rusty pipe.

    1. The stated intent of the inheritance tax was to prevent an aristocracy.

      Ask any Kennedy and they’ll tell you it worked wonders.

    2. this should be the universal example cited when someone asks what problem anyone could have with the inheritance tax.

    3. Especially when we’re talking about inheriting art. Art is usualy one-of-a-kind and its value is highly subjective. To even presume that they can put a relevant value on art or heirlooms is ridiculous.

      Frankly, I think the IRS should be forced to take the last sale value as the taxable value. Then shit like this wouldn’t even be worth pursuing.

      1. and you’re going to get taxed on the sale anyway (in terms of income, they’re not going to let that slide).

        Its basically a way for the government to take away everything your family owns.

  24. This would be a great starting point for some politician to get on board with some impotent, just-for-show, I-hate-the-IRS bashing. Have a committee hearing or something like that to show everybody you really don’t mean business. I mean if you can get on TV for asking baseball players if they took steroids while looking all concerned and shit, you could play this into at least a small snippet of CSPAN publicity, right?

  25. Anyway, it’s a macabre yet ironic bit of justice that a fraudulent pile of “art” that has hoodwinked a gullible culture since 1959, that is not worth $15–let alone $65 million–is the focus of extortion by another illegitimate entity: the IRS. It’s hard to pick the worst villain in this comedy.

    1. Oh I get it, you’re one of those people who think that if YOU don’t think it’s art, then it isn’t. Have fun with that.

      1. if YOU don’t think it’s art, then it isn’t

        And if YOU think it is, it is? But you just said (above) that you think it’s crap, too. Which is it, Nate? Crap or not crap? Now’s your chance to backtrack.

        1. Do you seriously not get that art is subjective and just because you and I think it’s crap doesn’t mean someone, somewhere doesn’t think it’s crap?

          Your entire position is that because we think it is crap, the heirs are “perpetuating a fraud”. That is simply not true.

    2. “It’s hard to pick the worst villain in this comedy.”

      I see you and the IRS ‘know’ what something is worth absent what the market says.
      Not hard to find the idiots…

      1. Markets are infallible? Art critics and appraisers, the key players in determining the “market” value of art, are infallible and objective? Is that what you are saying, Sevo? If all the critics agree that “The Newsroom” is a brilliant example of 21st century drama, then “the market” has spoken? You’re right. It isn’t hard to spot the idiot in this conversation.

        1. Some people are beyond Geo. Washington praying in the fuckin’ woods with his fuckin’ horse paintings.

          It’s the 21st century, man – try to keep up.

        2. Yes, the idiot is you.

          (If critics think The Newsroom is the best thing on television and advertisers flock to it then yes the market is working, whether or not my subjective taste says I think the show is crap.)

        3. Markets are infallible?


          Buyers and sellers make mistakes, but the market doesnt, as it is an inanimate and intangible construct.

          1. invisible hand of DOOOMMMMM!!!

        4. Markets are infallible?

          Its kind of tautological that markets set the real price for anything. Which is all we’re talking about here: what’s the dollar value of this thing?

          Art critics and appraisers, the key players in determining the “market” value of art,

          No, they aren’t the key players. The buyers and sellers are. Critics and appraisers are more like the fans and coaches than the players.

          1. That is a great analogy. Most analogies on reason suck hard. But that one is dead on.

        5. appraisers don’t determine market value, they determine appraised value, and if they are not using actual comparable sales, their appraised value isn’t reflective of the market, like this case.

    3. I’m not having a hard time picking the bad guy here. I wouldn’t pay 15 bucks for it either; you’d have to pay me 40-50 bucks to haul it to the dump for you.

      But taste is always subjective. Stealing isn’t.

  26. IRS tried some funny business in 1998 with McGwire 62nd HR ball. They threaten to tax the ball if a fan returned the ball to McGwire as gift tax, but later backed off. IIRC the fan who caught Bond’s 756 ball had to sell it to settle his tax bill, he wanted to hang on to it. IMO it’s a $10 ball until it’s sold.

    1. which is why mark to market fantasy is such a dumb concept even while executives were thrilled about it.

  27. Even if the panel’s assessment was accurate when it was made, and the piece was worth 65 million, it isn’t anymore because anyone who would have been interested knows the current circumstances, and knows the owners are in trouble.

    This is ignoring that selling it is illegal, of course.

  28. I’d like to see them gift it to the commissioner of the IRS.

    1. Maybe they could gift it to Bank Of America. Would put the final nail in their coffin.

      1. They should take it on tour, maybe showcase it in a carnival freak show. “Step right up and see the World’s Most Valuable Crap! One dollar to see Canyon, the World’s Most Valuable Crap!”

        1. Except they can’t. Possession of the dead bald eagle is a felony for them. The only reason their mom was able to keep it was because of a special wink-wink agreement from the Dept of Wildlife because the bird was killed and stuffed before 1940…and that was only so long as it stayed on display in a public museum.

          The sculpture is absolutely worthless to the beneficiaries because there is no legal market for it and selling it or profiting from it would be a felony thanks to an idiotic law. The valuation by the IRS is a complete scam. It was pushed by a former IRS bureaucrat who “no longer works” for the IRS who came up with a bullshit hypothetical about a “mysterious Chinese billionaire” who might buy it on the black market. Then it got taken to a council of art experts who valued it without (by their own admission) considering that the painting could not legally be sold.

          1. Not to mention that the first valuation the IRS gave the beneficiaries was $15 million. They upped it to $65 because the family said they weren’t about to pay it (since it was worthless and they’d already pad $471 million in taxes for the rest of the art they’d inherited). The IRS upped it out of spite. Then hit them with a $29 million tax bill and $11 million in penalties for submitting a “false” valuation (which wasn’t remotely false).

  29. Because the work, a sculptural combine, includes a stuffed bald eagle, a bird under federal protection, the heirs would be committing a felony if they ever tried to sell it. So their appraisers have valued the work at zero.

    But the Internal Revenue Service takes a different view. It has appraised “Canyon” at $65 million and is demanding that the owners pay $29.2 million in taxes.

    Any more questions as to why an income tax is immoral and a nat’l sales tax would be marked improvement?

    1. Single Land Tax is only defensible tax.

      Sales tax is just as immoral as income and death tax.

      1. This.

        Although I argue corporate liability is also legitimately taxable.

      2. Fuck that. Land “value” measured in currency should not be taxed, at least until the owner makes money by selling the land. Which would make it a sales tax. If you don’t like sales tax, then their should be no tax period.

    2. None. Aside from the fact that in this instance the tax being imposed is the estate tax, not the income tax.

  30. Those guys totally seem to know what the deal is.

  31. There’s no bigger tax scam than “imputed income,” and I respectfully and humbly include the Obamacare penalty/”tax.” This is a very big reason why the 16th Amendment needs to be repealed. The government can get away with this kind of crap because, as long as the assessment is tied to income tax, there are almost no restrictions on what they can do. That Amendment is, more than any other in the Constitution, a license to steal.

  32. Non cash assets (including land property) should not be taxed until the point at which they are sold and converted to cash income at a value higher than the purchase price. Fuck taxes on inherited assets other than cash income. Fuck the IRS.

  33. If you can’t sell it, then it isn’t worth $65million. It isn’t even worth one red cent. It is worth NOTHING! Sorry, IRS, but you should get NOTHING from these folks. You can take 100% of that nothing if you like… then cram it up your stupid asses.

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