The IRS does !!!!
The backstory: After legendary modern art dealer Ileana Sonnabend died in 2007 at the age of 92, her heirs sold off some of her collection to pay a whopping estate tax bill:
$331 million to Uncle Sam and $140 million to New York State. They sadly parted with works by Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly, reportedly to such billionaire collectors as French luxury-goods titan François Pinault.
But they couldn’t sell Sonnabend’s most famous holding—Rauschenberg’s collage “Canyon”—because it includes a stuffed bald eagle, and two federal laws bar possessing or trafficking in the bird, dead or alive. (After U.S. Fish & Wildlife agents spotted the verboten eagle in 1981, Sonnabend got a special permit to retain “Canyon” and lend it to museums. It’s now hanging at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
The Sonnabend estate tax return pegged her total worth at $876 million, including $0 for “Canyon,” based on appraisals from Christie’s and others. The IRS billed the estate for more tax, valuing “Canyon” at $65 million.
Ralph E. Lerner, the top art lawyer representing the estate, has sued the IRS in Tax Court and is vowing to fight the issue “all the way.” The IRS has long taken the position that it can tax stolen or illegal items in an estate based on “illicit market” value. But Lerner says this is different—Sonnabend complied with the law, and the estate isn’t ready to go rogue to sell “Canyon.” Plus, there’s no black market for an iconic piece, anyway.
When he called the chairman of the IRS art panel to complain, Lerner reports, “He told me there could be a market. For example, a recluse billionaire in China might want to buy it and hide it.” Says Lerner: “It’s bizarre. It sounds like a James Bond movie.” The IRS declined comment.
This link by the same author goes into more detail about the history of the artwork and the efforts Sonnabend made to always be in compliance with the art and law:
Now, here’s the really bad apart about this.
The Internal Revenue Service says it will need an battalion of 1,054 new auditors and staffers and new facilities at a cost to taxpayers of more than $359 million in fiscal 2012 just to watch over the initial implementation of President Obama’s healthcare reforms. Among the new corps will be 81 workers assigned to make sure tanning salons pay a new 10 percent excise tax. Their cost: $11.5 million.
“The ACA [Affordable Care Act] will require additional resources to build new IT systems; modify existing tax processing systems; provide taxpayer outreach and assistance services; make enhancements to notices, collections, and case management systems to address and resolve taxpayer issues timely and accurately; and conduct focused examinations to encourage compliance,” said the newly released IRS budget.
The IRS bureaucrats will be the bozos that will be the arbitrators of whether or not you are in compliance !!
God help us all !!!!