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Cultural Districts Frequently Asked Questions
- Tax Exempt Sales
- How does the tax exemption legislation relate to TIF districts? Can tax exemptions
be imposed in districts where taxes are dedicated to bonds, TIF etc?
The sale of qualified art would still be tax-exempt in TIF districts. However,
if sales tax is dedicated to repayment of Revenue Bonds it may not be
exempted. Check with local sales tax authority for restrictions.
- Are there implications for areas with controlled real estate?
If "controlled property" means "zoning," then the answer is no.
- How often and what is required of vendors reporting their tax exempt sales? Will
there be a line on the state and local reporting forms to indicate original art tax
exempt? How will vendor know what to do?
Vendors should report sales tax on their normal schedule which may be monthly, quarterly or annually. Tax exemption certificates and instructions are available online at www.crt.state.la.us/culturaldistricts.
There is a line
on the monthly or quarterly reporting form to indicate tax-exempt sales.
Vendors may sign up for a ListServe to receive tips and updates from the
Department of Revenue and the Department of CRT.
- If a business has 100% original art can there be an abbreviated process for filing?
There will not be a different process, but the vendor may be able to
streamline its own processes based on experience. Even if all sales conducted are exempt from tax, the vendor must still complete regular sales tax reports to both state and local tax authorities
- Should there be a threshold for tax-exempt sales that would basically limit it to the
higher volume, 365 days/year establishments as opposed to the smaller art
No. The law does not provide for or allow a threshold based on volume. The
sales tax exemption only applies to sale of "original, one-of-a-kind works of
art" sold within the boundaries of a cultural district as defined by statute and rules.
- Can a municipality opt out of the sales tax exemption? Can they opt out of only the
local sales tax exemption?
No, the law does not provide for or allow municipalities to "opt out."
- Can a vendor choose not to offer tax-exempt sale of original art?
No, the law does not provide for or allow vendors to "opt out."
- Original Art
- How is "work of art" defined?
For the purposes of the Cultural District program a work of art is defined as:
Original, one-of-kind, visual art; conceived and made by hand of the artist or
under his direction; and not intended for mass production, except for limited
editions specified below.
Examples of eligible visual art media and products include:
Visual arts and crafts, including but not limited to drawing, painting, sculpture,
clay, ceramics, fiber, glass, leather, metal, paper, wood, installation art, light and
digital sculpture, wearable art, or mixed media, and traditional and fine crafts; and
limited, numbered editions (up to 100) of lithographs, photography, silk screen,
intaglios, and etchings.
Examples of ineligible media and products include:
- Performing art;
- Food products;
- Live plants, such as bonsai trees, floral arrangements, wreaths, and garlands;
- Music recordings; and
- Reproductions of original works of art
- Who decides what qualifies as a work of art?
The Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, through the Office of
Cultural Development determines – for the purposes of the Cultural Districts sales tax exemption – determines whether or not an item meets the
definition of a work of art.
- What if I am not sure if an item meets the definition and is eligible?
You may request an original art advisory opinion through the Office of Cultural
Development to determine whether a specific item meets the definition of a taxexempt work of art. Complete an Original Art Advisory Opinion form available
online at www.crt.state.la.us/culturaldistricts and submit it to:
The Office of Cultural Development
C/O Gaye Hamilton
P.O. Box 44247,
Baton Rouge, LA, 70804
or via email to email@example.com, for a determination. The seller must provide proof that an item is a) original, b) one-of-a-kind, c) conceived and made by hand, and d) not intended for mass production.
- How do I decide if I need an original art advisory opinion?
To decide if an advisory opinion is needed for a particular item or class of items
ask yourself this question- Does this item stand alone as a work of art, is it
original and unique, was it hand-made, and not meant for mass production? If
you can honestly answer yes to all these questions but are still uncertain whether
the item is original art you should request an opinion as provided in the Cultural
Districts Advisory Opinion instructions. If you cannot answer yes to all points of
the definition, the item is not eligible, and an advisory opinion is not needed.
- Are antiques considered works of art?
Some antiques fall under the category of decorative arts, which can be
categorized as a traditional or fine craft. However, not all decorative arts are
original, one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces of art as many only meet some of the
qualifications of the cultural district definition of a work of art. Many decorative
arts, although hand made, were considered a mass produced item. Others were
fashioned from patterns or designed from pieces in a catalogue, in which case,
the item cannot be considered original. The seller must show the provenance of
the piece as well as complete an Original Art Advisory Opinion form and receive
an opinion prior to the sale. Decorative Arts are defined as ornamental and
utilitarian works in media including but not limited to ceramic, wood, glass, metal,
- Is antique furniture eligible for tax exempt sale?
Generally antique furniture is home furnishing which falls in the category of
decorative arts that are not considered works of visual art and are not eligible for
tax exempt sale under this program. However, if the provenance (the history of
the ownership of an object, especially when documented or authenticated) can
show that it is an original one-of-a-kind work of art, a piece may be eligible upon
provision of documentation to and review by the Department of Culture,
Recreation and Tourism for an Art Advisory Opinion, in advance of a sale, as
provide in the law.
- Are tattoos considered works of art eligible for the tax exemption?
While tattoos are considered an artistic creation, the Department has issued a
ruling that works of art must be transferable; therefore body images are not
- Is portrait photography eligible?
Fine art photography refers to photographs that are created to fulfill the creative
vision of the artist. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism
and commercial photography. Photojournalism provides visual support for
stories, mainly in the print media. Commercial photography's main focus is to sell
a product or service rather than create an artistic vision.
Typically studio, portrait, and commissioned photography are considered to be
commercial photography, not fine art photography, and therefore are not eligible
for tax exempt sale in a Cultural District. However, if there is a question as to the
eligibility of a photograph as an original work of art, an advisory opinion should
- Are photography sitting fess eligible?
Photographic sitting fees are charges for a service or a commerical nature. They are not eligible for sales tax exemption as original art under the definition adopted for the Cultural District program.
- Is handmade jewelry eligible?
To determine if jewelry is original art, considerations include the material, design,
whether handmade, and where it is sold.
- The material - gems, stones, metals, beads – Art jewelry is created with a
variety of materials including but not limited to precious metals and gems.
- Design- crafted to fulfill the creative vision of the artist.
- Handmade- According to the guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission, in
order to be stamped or called "handmade" the work must be made solely by
hand power or hand guidance.
- Where it is sold- consider whether there was a jury process to select for
inclusion at an art market.
Handmade beads and original designs qualify. Hand strung manufactured beads
do not qualify unless the creative vision and original design of the piece qualifies
it. If sold at an art market or festival that requires an artistic jury process
(different than just an application process) it may qualify as the originality and
artistic product has already been evaluated.
If there is a question about eligibility of a jewelry item as an original work of art,
an advisory opinion should be requested.
- What is wearable art?
Wearable art, also known as Artwear or "art to wear", refers to individually
designed pieces of (usually) hand-made clothing or jewelry created as fine or
expressive art. While the making of any article of clothing or other wearable
object typically involves aesthetic considerations, the term wearable art implies
that the work is intended to be accepted as a serious and unique artistic creation
- What is "mass production"?
Mass Production is defined as production of large amounts of standardized
products, including and especially on assembly lines. For the purposes of the
definition of original art for the Cultural Districts program, items that can be
reordered in quantity are considered mass produced. If an artist designs a work
of art that he/she intends to duplicate through manufacturing, printing, or
assembly by pattern over and over it is deemed to be “Intended for mass
production” and is not eligible for tax exempt sale.
- Are hand-made, original design oriental rugs eligible?
Most handmade oriental rugs are not original art under the definition adopted for
the Cultural Districts program. They are created from traditional patterns or may
be variations of a pattern recreated again and again. The rugs are manufactured
items even though they use a hand knotting construction process. If the
provenance (the history of the ownership of an object, especially when
documented or authenticated) can show that it is an original one-of-a-kind work
of art, a piece may be eligible upon provision of documentation to and review by
the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism for an Art Advisory Opinion,
in advance of a sale, as provide in the law.
- Are hand-made furniture and crafts eligible if they are made from a pattern?
Hand-made furniture and crafts made from a traditional, published or shared
patterns are not eligible under the definition of original art adopted for the
Cultural Districts program. Items made from the creator’s original design and not intended for mass production may be eligible.
- How does the intent of the artist effect whether an item is a work of art?
Art is defined as the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a
way that appeals to the sense or emotions, the product of human creativity,
serving as a means of expression.
- Are all editions of 100 or less eligible regardless of the media?
No, only limited editions of 100 or less if they are hand made or created under the
direction of the artist are eligible. Eligible media include lithographs,
photography, silk screen, intaglios, etchings, and graphic design. Other
reproductions of art work and posters are not eligible.
- Are giclees enhanced by the artist eligible?
No, the print process used to create giclees is a mass production printing
process which is excluded in the definition of original art adopted for the Cultural
- Does the tax-exempt sale of art apply to living artists only?
No. The law does not permit a distinction between art created by living or
deceased artists. All art that meets the definition above is exempt from
- Is there a distinction between art and craft?
Art and craft are both eligible for the sales tax exemption as defined above.
- Are photographs and prints considered "original" works of art?
Because of their nature, limited editions (up to 100) of some forms of art are
specifically included in the definition.
- In the definition of original art what is meant by "commercially produced"?
The Division of the Arts has settled on the language "conceived and made
by the hand of the artist or under his direction and not intended for mass
- Will there be a form signed by the artist that certifies their intention that the work is
original, not intended for mass reproduction?
Yes, the Louisiana Department of Revenue has developed a form for
vendors to use to certify the authenticity of original art. The vendor is
responsible for securing the authentication required by the rules.
- Established location
- Do recurring arts events within a Cultural District have to have the same vendors to be "established"?
Events do not have to have the same vendors. It is up to the event
organizers to determine who participates in an art event and to provide exemptions certifications and reporting instructions to eligible vendors. The law requires the sales tax exemption when the item is sold from an "established location." An established location is defined in the rules as any
location within the boundaries of the cultural district.
- Are vendors from out-of-state at markets and festivals eligible for tax exempt
The law does not permit a distinction between in-state vendors versus out-of-
state vendors OR in-state artists versus out-of-state artists. The question
is merely (a) whether the item meets the definition of art (as defined in the
statute and rule) and (b) whether the item is sold from an established
location within a cultural district.
- In New Orleans there are many monthly festivals that would take place within a Cultural District. Would they be included in the exemption?
Yes. Sales of qualifying original art from festivals, arts markets, and street vendors
will all be exempt from sales taxes so long as the location is within the
boundaries of the cultural district. It is the responsibility of the event
sponsor to make sure the vendors know the procedures to conduct tax exempt
- What about French Quarter artists who are licensed and taxed by the city, but sell
on the street?
Yes, if the location of a sale of original art in the French Quarter is in a
Cultural District it is exempt from state and local sales tax.
- Preservation Tax Credits
- If your property is in a Cultural District and a DDD or MS district can you get the tax credit twice?
No. You can get both commercial and residential credits if the property is
multi-use and the owner resides there, and you can get both federal and
state tax credits for eligible properties, but you cannot get double the state
credit for properties in more than one type of eligible district.
- Does a building have to be historically significant to get Historic tax credits?
Not necessarily. If a building is fifty years or older and in a Cultural District it
may be eligible for historic tax credits. Each property owner should contact
the Division of Historic Preservation to determine eligibility. www.crt.state.la.us/hp/taxincentives.aspx
- Must the Cultural District boundary be on the centerline of the streets?
In some Main Street communities where the existing boundaries were not created using
Using centerlines of visible features rather than non-visible property
lines for a Cultural District boundary is recommended, but it is not a
- Are Cultural Districts restricted only to a commercial corridor or can an entire
neighborhood, including residential, be a part of the district?
An entire neighborhood, including residential areas, may be included in a
cultural district if the district meets the definition and criteria.
- Why are there no size and density restrictions in the rules? Can an entire city or
parish be a Cultural District?
Recognizing the diverse needs and character of Louisiana’s various
communities, the law and rules do not attempt to create a one-size-fits-all
size and density requirement. Therefore, there is no outside limit on size, or
minimum threshold for density. However, the district must meet the
definition and criteria set forth in the law and rules. Because the district
must be a "hub of cultural activity" it is unlikely that a large area would meet
the definition. Plus, it is unlikely that cities or parishes would be in favor of
a citywide or parish-wide loss in sales tax revenue.
- There are no stipulations about what has to be in a Cultural District - can it be a
combination of rural and suburban?
Yes, the requirements are intended to be flexible and are focused on the
goals and uses of the district, both existing and potential.
- Can there be more than one Cultural District in a jurisdiction? It is not written in the rules, but it should be.
Yes, there can be more than one Cultural District in a jurisdiction. Anything
not prohibited in the rules is allowed.
- Since it is stated in the bill, does a Cultural District have to contain artist housing?
A cultural district does not have to contain artist housing. However, artist
housing can be a contributing factor in a district being characterized as a
"hub of cultural activity." The rules were adjusted to clarify that point.
- Intent to help artists
- It seems the intent of the legislation is to benefit property owners, developers and
business owners rather than artists.
The Cultural Districts program, by granting a favorable tax status to art
encourages greater sales of art, intended to benefit the artists who create
original art work.
- Suggestions for truly benefiting the artist: sales-tax exemption on artists’ supplies;
help with rent; incentives for the "hub" itself such as rental breaks, tax credits
These are useful ideas for future legislation, but are not part of the Cultural
Districts program created to implement Act 298 of 2007.
- What about local producers of music, literary journals, and film? Will there be
legislative efforts to include tax benefits for these art forms?
These are useful ideas for future legislation. A bill that would have
exempted from income tax that income derived from the sale of art was
rejected by the legislature in 2007.
- Is original art produced by artists who do not live and work in Louisiana eligible?
Yes. The law does not distinguish between art created by Louisiana residents and art that is created by non-residents.
- Annual reports
- What kind of additional workload will the reports create for Cultural District
applicants? Will we know in advance what type of data to collect?
The local governing authority applying for Cultural District designation will
have to provide the information listed in the rules and guidelines. Public
meetings held throughout the state were intended to be an opportunity for
local governing authorities to let us know if any of the required information
was irrelevant, impossible, or cost-prohibitive to obtain or to obtain in
accordance with the proposed timetable. As a result we have made efforts to
facilitate collection of required information, Historic Tax Credit information
is available through the Division of Historic Preservation. The Louisiana
Department of Revenue will provide sales tax revenue and the value of
exemptions claimed within Cultural Districts for which Business Inventory
information is provided.
- Enterprise Zones reporting procedures already exist, and perhaps the Cultural
Districts reports could be modeled after those.
The DCRT worked with the Department of Revenue to ensure the reporting
requirements were consistent with other reporting requirements already in
- With regard to reporting: The city government oversees the creation of a Cultural
District, but do they have to create a position whose role it will be to collect the
The local governing authority may delegate the duty (but not the
responsibility) to complete application and reports to whomever it deems
- Cultural District Application/Process/Office of Cultural Development Capacity
- Why not make the Cultural District application/approval process be ongoing, not
limited to two times a year?
The application process is deliberately structured to ensure that the Office
of Cultural Development will be able to plan and resource the process
appropriately, while giving communities ample opportunity to apply and
have the application considered in a timely manner.
- Does CRT have the capacity to turn applications around in the 30-day time periods
stated? Can we expect prompt notification if we are ready to go with our
As with any new project, it is difficult to anticipate all of the details of
implementation. We expect to be able to meet the deadlines established in
the rules, which specify the applications will be reviewed and notified within
90 days of each review cycle deadline.