Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2013
 

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 2. Assessment

CHAPTER 1. Taxation Base

Article 1. Taxable and Exempt Property

Section 217

217. Works of art. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (d), the following articles of personal property that have been made available for display in a publicly owned art gallery or museum, or a museum that is regularly open to the public and that is operated by a nonprofit organization that qualifies for exemption pursuant to Section 23701d, shall be exempt from taxation:

(1) Original paintings in oil, mineral, water, vitreous enamel, or other colors, pastels, original mosaics, original drawings and sketches in pen, ink, pencil, or watercolors, or works of the free fine arts in any other media including applied paper and other materials, manufactured or otherwise, that are used on collages, artists' proof etchings unbound, and engravings and woodcuts unbound, lithographs, or prints made by other hand transfer processes unbound, or original sculptures or statuary. As used in this subdivision:

(A) "Sculpture" and "statuary" shall include professional productions of sculptors only whether in round or in relief, in bronze, marble, stone, terra cotta, ivory, wood, metal, or other materials, or whether cut, carved, or otherwise wrought by hand from the solid block or mass of marble, stone, alabaster, or from metal, or other materials, or cast in bronze or other metal or substance, or from wax or plaster, or constructed from any material or made in any form as the professional productions of sculptors, only.

(B) "Original" when used to modify the words "sculptures" and "statuary" shall include the original work or model and the first 10 castings, replicas, or reproductions made from the sculptor's original work or model with or without a change in scale, regardless of whether or not the sculptor is alive at the time the castings, replicas, or reproductions are completed.

(C) "Painting," "mosaic," "drawing," "work of the free fine arts," "sketch," "sculpture," and "statuary" shall not include any articles of utility, articles designed for industrial use, or any articles that are made wholly or in part by stenciling or any other mechanical process.

(D) "Etchings," "engravings," "woodcuts," "lithographs," or "prints made by other hand transfer processes," shall include only works that are printed by hand from plates, stones or blocks etched, drawn, or engraved with handtools and do not include works that are printed from plates, stones or blocks etched, drawn or engraved by photochemical or other mechanical processes.

(2) Original works of the free fine arts, that are not described in paragraph (1), are subject to regulations, as the board may prescribe, to prove that the article represents some school, kind, or medium of the free fine arts. As used in this paragraph "original works of the free fine arts" shall not include any article of utility or any article designed for industrial use.

(b) When making a claim for an exemption pursuant to this section, a person claiming the exemption shall provide all information required and answer all questions in an affidavit, under penalty of perjury. The assessor may require other proof of the facts stated before allowing the exemption. The affidavit shall be accompanied by a certificate of the director or other officer of the art gallery or museum in which the property for which an exemption is claimed under this section was made available for display that the property was available for public display in the art gallery or museum for the period specified in subdivision (e).

(c) Sections 255 and 260 shall be applicable to the exemption provided by this section.

(d) The exemption provided by subdivision (a) shall not apply to any work of art loaned by any person who holds works of art primarily for purposes of sale.

(e) The exemption provided by this section shall not apply unless the property was made available for public display in the art gallery or museum for a period of 90 days during the 12-month period immediately preceding the lien date for the year for which the exemption is claimed.

If the property was first made available for public display less than 90 days prior to the lien date, the exemption may be granted if the person claiming the exemption certifies in writing that the property will be made available for public display for at least 90 days during the 12-month period commencing with the first day the property was made available for public display.

(f) For purposes of this section "regularly open to the public" means that the gallery or museum was open to the public not less than 20 hours per week for not less than 35 weeks of the 12-month period immediately preceding the lien date for the year for which the exemption is claimed.

If the gallery or museum has been open for less than 35 weeks during the 12-month period immediately preceding the lien date or for less than 20 hours per week during that period, the exemption may be granted if the director or other officer of the gallery or museum certifies in writing that the gallery or museum will be open for not less than 20 hours per week for not less than 35 weeks during the 12-month period beginning with the day the gallery or museum was first opened.

(g) If a person certifies in writing that the property will be made available and the gallery or museum open for the periods specified in subdivisions (e) and (f), and the property is not so made available or the gallery or museum is not so opened, the exemption shall be canceled, and an escape assessment may be made as provided in Section 531.1.

History.—Added by Stats. 1965, p. 3372, in effect September 17, 1965. Stats. 1979, Ch. 1188, in effect September 30, 1979, substituted "or a museum which is regularly open to the public and which is operated by a nonprofit organization which has qualified for exemption pursuant to Section 23701d," for "for a minimum period of 90 days during the preceding year" in the first sentence of subdivision (a); added "or other officer" after "director", and substituted "the period specified in subdivision (e)" for "a period of 90 days or more during the preceding calendar year" in the third sentence of subdivision (b); and added subdivisions (e), (f), and (g). Stats. 2004, Ch. 200 (SB 1880), in effect January 1, 2005, substituted "that" for "which" three times and substituted "that qualifies" for "which has qualified" after "nonprofit organization" in the first sentence of the first paragraph of subdivision (a), substituted "that" for "such as" after "or otherwise," in the first sentence of paragraph (1), deleted "be understood to" after "and 'statuary' shall" in the first sentence of subparagraph (A); deleted "be understood to" after "and 'statuary' shall" and substituted "scale," for "scale and" after "change in" in the first sentence of subparagraph (B); substituted "include any articles of utility, articles designed for industrial use, or any articles that" for "be understood to include any articles of utility or for industrial use, nor such as" after "shall not" in the first sentence of subparagraph (C); and substituted "include only works that" for "be understood to include only such as" after "shall" and substituted "do not include works that" for "not such as" after "with handtools and" in the first sentence of subparagraph (D); and substituted "that are not described" for "not provided for" after "free fine arts," and substituted "are subject to regulations, as the board may prescribe, to prove" for "subject to such regulations as the board may prescribe as to proof" after "this subdivision" in the first sentence of paragraph (2) therein; substituted "shall provide all information required and answer all questions in an affidavit, under penalty of perjury." for "shall appear before the assessor, shall give all information required and answer all questions in an affidavit, and shall subscribe and swear to the affidavit before the assessor." after "claiming the exemption" in the first sentence of subdivision (b); and substituted "that" for "such" after "per week during" in the second sentence of subdivision (f). Stats. 2005, Ch. 22 (SB 1108), in effect January 1, 2006, added "or" after "processes unbound" in the first sentence of paragraph (1) and deleted "and" after " "engravings," " in the first sentence of subparagraph (D) therein, and deleted "of this subdivision" after "in paragraph (1)" in the first sentence of paragraph (2) of subdivision (a); and deleted "The provision of" before "Sections 255 and" in the first sentence of subdivision (c).

Note.—Section 10 of Stats. 1979, Ch. 1188, provided that questions have arisen in several counties concerning the application of the property tax exemption provided in Section 217 of the Revenue and Taxation Code for works of art exhibited in museums owned and operated for public and charitable purposes by tax exempt organizations which are open to the public. Several county assessors have questioned whether such museums are "publicly owned" within the meaning of Section 217 of the Revenue and Taxation Code and thus whether the museums are qualifying museums for the display of art for purposes of the exemption provided in Section 217 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. This applies to art works owned by the museum as well as to works of art loaned to such museums for display. A construction of Section 217 of the Revenue and Taxation Code which excludes museums owned and operated for public and charitable purposes by tax-exempt organizations from the definition of a "publicly owned art gallery or museum" would be inconsistent with long-standing administrative interpretations which have determined that such museums do qualify for the exemption provided in Section 217 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.

It is the public policy of this state to encourage the public display of art. Such policy shall be affirmed by a declaration of the existing law concerning the status of museums as provided in Section 1.7 of this act. It consistently has been the intent of the Legislature, and so interpreted administratively, that such museums be considered publicly owned within the meaning of Section 217 of the Revenue and Taxation Code so long as they are owned by a tax-exempt charitable organization and are open to the public.

The legislative policy has recently been expressed with the enactment of Section 6365 of the Revenue and Taxation Code relating to sales and use tax exemption on art purchases for museums. This declaration and amendments made to Section 217 of the Revenue and Taxation Code by Section 1.7 of this act would make such provisions consistent with the provisions in Section 6365 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. Sec. 11 thereof provided that changes made by Section 1.7 of this act are declarative of existing law, and that it is the intent of the Legislature that Section 1.7 be applied to determine the eligibility of exemptions under Section 217 of the Revenue and Taxation Code for any property otherwise taxable on March 1, 1979. Section 13 thereof provided no payment by state to local governments because of this act.