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Artists and Paintings
updated: Jun 20, 2014, 2:15 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

Does anyone know if an artist who paints at their home and sells a painting once in a while (rarely)., has to have a business license?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 529461P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 02:36 PM

Where -- city or county?


 COMMENT 529463 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 02:37 PM

If "this artist" is claiming a home office tax deduction I think the answer is yes.


 COMMENT 529468 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 02:48 PM

Yep. And it sucks all the hoops AND fees you must pay in order to do so legally!


 COMMENT 529469 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 02:49 PM

You need a license for where you work and where you sell so you'll have to get ten, one for each city where you may sell the art and one for your house where you create the art. One for SB, one for Goleta, one for Carpinteria, one for SY, one for Buellton, Lompoc, Ventura and so on to be on the official up and up. Someone has to pay for the bureaucrats to issue these things and then take a coffee break.


 COMMENT 529471P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 02:54 PM

Stay tuned. The Santa Barbara Art Association has been working with Helene Schneider to simplify the process. The Association says it was on the June 17th agenda--don't know what happened. It was probably referred somewhere for recommendations...


 COMMENT 529475 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 03:11 PM

If you exchange a product for money regardless of where the business is located, you will need a license of some sort. Keep in mind the State, County, and City all might require you to obtain individual licenses and retail permits.

This is why no one starts businesses in CA anymore. They make it so confusing and hard to get started, SMB's future is bleak.


 COMMENT 529478P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 03:21 PM

Even if 469 was overstating for effect, I recently sold part of a private collection, as I believe you are asking about and it was such a hassle both my accountant and I wished I never started it. You need the business licenses AND the SBOE stuff too. They do work together so you cannot have one without the other. My advice is to keep meticulous records and do what they tell you to do.


 COMMENT 529479 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 03:25 PM

This is so sad.


 COMMENT 529486 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 03:31 PM

Legally, yes.
In reality, no.
No one at the City or the County or the State is going to come looking for you for a painting sold here or there.
Pay your taxes, you'll be fine.


 COMMENT 529494P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 03:46 PM

Government only applies rules to those who can pay. I cannot camp on the lawn at the library or shut my street down to party all night. Do the people selling flowers or strawberries on street corners have business licenses? Do students in IV have special event permits? No but I would have to... Sell your paintings don't make bank deposits in excess of 8k at any given time. You will be fine...


 COMMENT 529498P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 03:49 PM

Sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission.


 COMMENT 529500 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 03:56 PM

When I started my little service business I went to an IRS accountant and asked about what I would need to do in terms of licenses, regulations, etc. He told me flat out if you try to obey every single regulation you will go out of business in a year. The trick is to find the work-arounds, and 486 makes the point. Once in awhile = don't bother with the bureaucracy unless the piece has a relatively high value monetarily.

But it depends on the value. If it's a 3,000 piece more is involved regarding the art and artist, provenance, etc. , a 20 dollar piece why worry? If I buy one of your paintings from you direct, it's like a yard sale who cares? If you sell it direct on a website talk to an accountant. If you sell it direct to a dealer/gallery, they don't care if you have a license they care about the piece. Rembrandt didn't have a business license and didn't need one either! The taxman was waiting tho.


 COMMENT 529501P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 03:57 PM

You are, of course, reporting your income from the sales on your tax returns.

Are you reporting the income and deducting expenses on a Schedule C? If so, it's a business and you need a business license.

Are you reporting the income as hobby income and deducting expenses on Schedule A? If so, it wouldn't be a business; shouldn't need a license, at least, in my opinion.


 COMMENT 529516P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 04:08 PM

We have moved our business out of this state for exactly this reason. We're really struggling financially, but hope to recover by not supporting the insane and excessive bureaucracy that has become the main business in CA. We were at the point where we were having to renew or file between 18 & 24 permits, fees, or licenses every year (city, state, federal) to maintain our legal status, for a 2 person business. In the state we moved to, we have 3 licenses total (federal and state), and only the normal yearly & quarterly tax filings.

Our across the street Goleta neighbor, a self-employed, licensed contractor in the construction trades, was told he needed a home business license and a city business license. He told the bureaucrat who was hassling him that he worked from Santa Maria to Ventura, and he was not going to get anything other than SB County and Ventura County business licenses, period.

California is killing itself with its excessive fees, permits, regulations, and bureaucracy, and small businesses are leaving in droves or cheating to survive. Fight back against excessive and stupid duplicate government bureaucracy.


 COMMENT 529527 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 04:17 PM

Have a garage sale, put it on CL as used. No problemo.


 COMMENT 529538 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 04:38 PM

The IRS and local government don't talk, so get away without having a business license for as long as you can and just act surprised if you ever get caught. Of course still pay income taxes ( unless you get paid in cash). As others have mentioned you will need a BL in every town you sell a painting in. For our business we have two licenses one for Goleta and one for Santa Barbara. Boo


 COMMENT 529580P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-20 07:47 PM

Maybe Federal law supersedes our city or county laws.

Does George W. need a business license to sell a painting he paints in his bathtub?


 COMMENT 529618 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-21 07:47 AM

If we all paid the same amount of taxes then one would be free to make as much money as one could. Example: Disneyland: pay the price and some people ride ALL the rides, some ride 2 rides.

If you are paying your taxes elsewhere then painting is a hobby. Sell and keep the $. If painting is your primary occupation then pony up and get the licenses and fees like the rest of us.

If you are on the dole and you paint well enough that people want to buy your paintings then paint more, sell more and get off the dole.

It's all about the taxes, baby.


 COMMENT 529619 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-21 07:47 AM

We need to have gov't employees saddled with Private Enterprise Service Hours...required working for free for private companies.
This way they will understand what all the red tape does to us.
Big problem is finding tasks that won't slow us down further!


 COMMENT 529629 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-21 08:44 AM

I created digital art on demand for clients for about 20 years out of my home in the city. I was never licensed by the city, county, or state. I always paid state and federal taxes on income and never had a local business license. Legally I assume I should of had a business license, in practicality no one cared and I never had a problem. I was a sole proprietor and used my personal checking account. Banks may now require a business license in order to open a business account.


 COMMENT 529632 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-21 08:53 AM

Yes, fly under the radar as long as possible re city licenses. It will be harder for successive generations what with all the cameras and transactions swirling around in the ether. The government will say that it has been the law for a long time, it has the power and it has the records. They'll even saw they need the money (and penalties) for public safety.
OT: I came in from Canada yesterday. My passport was scanned and inspected several times. Not enough. Then I had to have my photo taken. I asked if I had to do that. "Sure, you can go over there to see the officer." Of course, there is a video camera humming just above him. 1984 all over again. Supercharged. Being a lazy coward, I took the easy way.
PS Pay your taxes.
I like the sentiments on this thread.


 COMMENT 529633 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-21 08:54 AM

Now the city has a whole new target to go after. They and their hired guns from the central valley hounded me for business license fees for three years after i moved out of the city limits and conducted no business in city limits, despite i forming them in writing and on the phone.


 COMMENT 529649 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-21 09:50 AM

@516...so true! A sad state of affairs in CA. We will be getting out and moving our small business affairs elsewhere as soon as we can. The state is killing itself, slowly and surely.


 COMMENT 529653 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-21 09:55 AM

I was an independent contractor in my own sales business living in the county for 22 years+ - the only fee I ever paid for was a fictitious name statement and opened a bank account with that. I never had a business license. I did report my income from commissions and direct sales and never had a problem with the local bureaucrats. Also, I never deducted the use of space in my home on my income taxes. If you sell your home you have to deduct from your cost basis the value of the deductions. Not worth it.


 COMMENT 529656 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-21 10:07 AM

I got a letter from the sales tax board stating they are sending inspectors out to make sure I have a business license.

I think last years sales tax was $5. Guess it is past time to call that business closed


 COMMENT 529657 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-21 10:15 AM

should not landlords who rent out rooms in their homes and garages also then have business licenses for conduction a business which also produces income? Another can of worms...the income from the rental of rooms and garages and sheds brings in more than the sale of a painting? Go get' em Helene and finance...leave the hobbyists alone.


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