GST adds to artists’ woes; business at a standstill

Sale of Indian artwork goes down as a result of the combined effects of demonetisation and GST say Indian artists in Bangalore.

Paintings for sale at Mahua Art Gallery in Bangalore

Bangalore, November 22, 2017: The Indian Artist’s community has been dealt a big blow to their business as a result of the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST). As a result of the new tax reforms, artwork falls under the 12 per cent tax bracket.
Ravi Kashi, an independent artist from Bangalore says that the selling of artwork has come to a standstill ever since GST has been implemented. Earlier, artists could keep an artwork on consignment basis in a gallery for six months or one year where the Value Added Tax(VAT) would  be charged   when the artwork is sold  . But, after the implementation of GST, the artist has to put a price on the art work, calculate the GST rate and move ahead with it.
Ravi Kashi added that there is a lot of confusion associated with GST on artwork. Sincethe whole community is not really aware especially since it is difficult to put an absolute price tag on a work.“I have not made a single sale in the last 8 months,” he said
Similarly, Babu Ishwar Prasad, another freelance artist says that art is a different profession in comparison to  other trades, where there is uncertainty involved with sale and purchase of  artwork. However, GST has brought the community down to a new low.
He says that the artist community in Bangalore had approached the state Finance Ministry to talk about abolition of GST on small artwork and charge it on artworks that are priced at Rs. 2 lakh or more.
Both Ravi Kashi and Babu Prasad said that even though VAT was higher before (14 per cent), the process was more convenient  since they were able to move their artwork around from one gallery to another with ease.
Ashok Das, a Madhubani artist from Bihar says that GST has made the whole affair of framing an artwork a little more expensive, since he has to pay 28 per cent tax on framing his artworks.
However, there are people who feel that the low sales are due to demonetisation. Lakshmanan V, General Manager of Mahua Art Gallery Bangalore says that the general trend among  people who are buying art is that they want to pay using  cash which does not require  invoices. However , after demonetisation, cash isn’t the preferred mode of transaction and hence they are buying less artwork.
In general, the sale of artworks has gone down in the last one year, he added.


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