Tax incentives for private support to culture

Council of Europe,
18 January 2001, France

Much is said about financing channels running parallel with central governmental allocations, since these started to shrink from the nineteen-seventies in most parts of the world.

Culture has been receiving increasing private support in various forms and amounts in every European country in the past 10-20 years. Government policies were traditionally supportive to private donations and this positive attitude was usually reflected in the tax systems. With regard to the spread of business sponsorship in the 1970s and 1980s, cultural policies reacted in various ways: some governments until quite recently showed reservations about the excessive influence of market and of private capital over cultural values. Although such fears are not entirely unfounded, by now it has been generally accepted that business sponsorship to culture is worthy of political support.

By observing how governments - and of course Parliaments - try to promote and reward private support to culture, we are examining indirect public support. In this sense our subject is indeed the fiscal support of governments to private support to culture.

The core subject of this publication is thus the various regimes of tax relief/incentive which accompany private financial support to culture, with special attention to the circumstances of post-communist countries in East and Central Europe.