How Can We Pay For Creativity In The Digital Age?

In November 2012, the Minnesota Department of Revenue notified the musician Venus DeMars that her tax returns would be audited. DeMars, a respected fixture in the Minneapolis rock scene, had performed since the mid-nineties as the lead singer of All the Pretty Horses, a moody, glam-inspired rock band. She and the group had released half a dozen albums and toured throughout the United States and abroad. Her accountant had deducted business expenses, such as money that had gone into touring and performance. But it quickly became apparent that the audit didn’t arise from any arithmetical errors. At stake was whether she was, indeed, an artist. The state tax authorities found her claim dubious. In their view, someone putting most of her money into an endeavor that produced very little return couldn’t possibly be doing work. DeMars’s deductions were therefore illegitimate, she was told, and she owed nearly thirty-six hundred dollars in back taxes. Her legal fight took a year and a half and cost around twelve thousand dollars, which fans and fellow-artists helped her cover. In the end, the Department of Revenue relented; it even paid her a tax refund of around seventy dollars. Read more at The New Yorker.