About the program
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Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2009
About the brochure
This brochure was designed as a hardcopy publication and may be difficult to read on-screen.
A text-only version is available below.
Cultural Gifts Program
Tax incentives for culturally significant gifts to Australia's public collections
The Cultural Gifts Program encourages Australians to donate items of cultural significance from private collections to public art galleries, museums, libraries and archives.
Gifts can range from paintings, books, sculptures, manuscripts and personal papers to jewellery, ceramics—even entire technological, mechanical, scientific or social history collections.
The program is administered in accordance with the gift provisions of the income tax law. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet administers the program with the advice of an expert committee, the Committee on Taxation Incentives for the Arts.
As a donor, you will be eligible for the following tax incentives under the program:
- The market value of the gift is fully tax deductible, with some exceptions.
- You can elect to spread the deduction over up to five income years.
- Gifts are exempt from capital gains tax.
You may also claim a tax deduction for the cost of valuations obtained specifically for this program.
Please note, gifts bequeathed under a will or made by executors of deceased estates are not tax deductible and do not qualify for the program.
Benefiting Australia's cultural heritage
If you make a donation, you can be proud that your gift is helping develop Australia’s public cultural collections. You are also helping to preserve Australia’s cultural heritage for the benefit of present and future generations.
How to make a donation
- Check with the institution
Your first step is to make sure that the public collecting institution you have chosen is eligible to participate in the program, and wants your gift for its collection.
- Organising the valuations
Two valuations of the market value of your gift at the time of donation are required from valuers who are approved for the program. The institution will either arrange the valuations or assist you to find valuers who are approved for the program.
Valuations should be done within 90 days of the date of the donation, so they reflect the current market value.
- Completing the paperwork
The institution will arrange for you to complete a Certificate of Donation form which describes the gift and transfers ownership from you to the institution.
- Assessing and endorsing the gift
Your chosen institution will forward the Certificate of Donation, valuations and other documentation to the Committee on Taxation Incentives for the Arts.
The Committee will make sure that the valuations reflect current market value and that your gift meets the program guidelines.
- Your tax claim
Once the gift has been endorsed, the documents will be returned to you for your tax records. Unless you are advised otherwise, you may then claim the average of the valuations as a tax deduction for the financial year in which the gift was formally accepted by the institution (that is, the date of donation as recorded on the Certificate of Donation).
Points for noting
Apportioning your deduction
You can elect to spread your deduction over a maximum of five income tax years, however the deduction for a gift cannot add to or create a tax loss. The apportionment must begin in the income tax year in which the gift is made.
If you wish to apportion your deduction, you will need to complete an Apportionment Election Form, available from the Cultural Gifts Program officers or the program’s website. You may vary this election at any time before you lodge your tax return for a particular income year.
Limitations on tax deductions
The Tax Office may vary or disallow the deductible amount when:
- the gift is given with conditions that prevent or delay the institution having clear title, custody and control of it, or which involve benefits to the donor, other than the allowable tax concessions;
- the gift was made within 12 months of being acquired by the donor (other than by inheritance), or acquired specifically for the purpose of donating it. The allowable deduction in this case will be restricted to the purchase price or the market value, whichever is the lesser amount; or
- the donated items form part of the trading stock of either a dealer or an artist donating their own work.