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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. 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 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. The art seller must complete regular sales tax reports to both state and local tax authorities, even if all sales are exempt and no tax is due.

    • 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 markets?
      No. The law does not provide for or allow a threshold based on volume. The sales tax exemption applies to all sales 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 qualifying original art?
      No, the law does not provide for or allow vendors to "opt out."


  2. 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 their direction; and not intended for mass production, except for limited editions specified below. An item must meet all aspects of the definition to qualify. Works of art involve a degree of manipulation of materials. It's important to note that assembly should not be equated with craftsmanship.

      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
      • Reproductions of original works of art, including giclees

    • 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 tax exempt work of art. Complete an Original Art Advisory Opinion form available here and submit it to:
    •   The Office of Cultural Development
        C/O Francesca Vega
        P.O. Box 44247
        Baton Rouge, LA, 70804

      or via email to, 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. 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 a variety of media including but not limited to ceramic, wood, glass, metal, and textiles.

    • 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 eligible.

    • Is portrait photography eligible?
      Fine art photography refers to photographs that are created to fulfill the creative vision of the artist. Fine art photography often 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 often not on an original artistic vision.

      Sometimes, commissioned photography is fine art photography, and therefore, is eligible for tax exempt sale in a Cultural District. If there is a question as to the eligibility of a photograph as an original work of art, an advisory opinion should be requested.

    • Are photography sitting fess eligible?
      Photographic sitting fees are charges for a service, not a cultural product. 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 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 or statement.

    • 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 Districts program.

    • 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 sales taxes.

    • 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 production"

    • 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.


  3. 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 provides for sales tax exemption on qualifying items sold from an "established location" in a cultural district 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 sales?
      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 sales.

    • 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.


  4. 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.


  5. Boundary/Content

    • Must the Cultural District boundary be on the centerline of the streets?
      Using visible features and centerlines of streets rather than non-visible property lines for a Cultural District boundary is recommended, but it is not a requirement.

    • 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.


  6. 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.


  7. 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 place.

    • 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 information?
      The local governing authority may delegate the duty (but not the responsibility) to complete application and reports to whomever it deems appropriate.
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