$30 Million in Taxes on a $0 Piece of Art 

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

When is a work by National Medal of Arts winner Robert Rauschenberg actually worth $0? When it contains a stuffed bald eagle, and is thus illegal to sell. Yet the IRS has appraised the piece at $65 million dollars, and is thus trying to collect almost $30 million dollars in taxes and penalties on it. The New York Times has all the details on this Kafkaesque tale of woe.

Last fall, the agency sent the family an unsigned draft report that it was valuing “Canyon” at $15 million. After Mr. Lerner replied that the children were refusing to pay, the I.R.S. then sent a formal Notice of Deficiency in October saying it had increased the valuation to $65 million.

So in addition to being illogical, the IRS is also being petty and vindictive. Wonderful.


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