Why Mexico Lets You Pay Taxes With Art

In Mexico, about 700 registered artists pay their income taxes with literal works of art every year as part of the Pago en Especie program.

If you can't pay your taxes in Mexico, the country will let you pay with something else: works of art. There are about 700 registered artists in Mexico that are allowed to pay their taxes with art instead of money as part of the Pago en Especie program. The number of artworks you sell each year determines how many pieces you have to donate to the government. If you sell five paintings in a year you must give the government one. If you sell between six and eight you have to give two. There is a cap at six pieces of art total.

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Not all art can qualify for this program. Only paintings, drawings, sculptures and graphic art are allowed, and the Mexican government must ensure that the art is high-quality. The country takes the program very seriously because it is a way for them to showcase Mexican art around the world. One painter who has participated in the program said "But aside from being convenient, it is also a source of pride, knowing that your art will become part of a historic collection that reflects Mexico's creative heritage."

This extensive collection now has over 7,000 pieces of artwork in museums all over the world, as well as Mexico City. Some of these works are now worth a lot of money including a Diego Rivera painting that's estimated to be worth millions. Mexico is not allowed to sell any of the paintings they receive as part of the tax program and they've even had to purchase warehouse space for the amount they've accumulated. However, many agree this is a better alternative because before the program launched, most artists simply did not pay their taxes at all.

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Read more about Mexico's art tax program:

The Atlantic: In Mexico, Artists Can Pay Their Taxes With Artwork

Forbes: Paying Taxes with Art is Legal in the UK and Mexico, Why Not the U.S.?