Skin Deep 167

Recently I had the great pleasure of spending a few days in the company of one Mr Joe Myler and his crew from JMD’s Body Art over in Ireland. We spent a few days sampling a pint or three of the ‘black stuff’ and hanging out in his recently refurbished studio, just chatting about tattoos and art and how the tattooing industry has changed and is indeed, changing, in Ireland. It was very relaxing watching Joe and Ian working on various customers, either starting a new piece or finishing off a long-worked on tattoo and we got talking about the fact that in Southern Ireland if you are classed as an artist, you don’t have to pay income tax. “What?” was my reply after Joe mentioned this to me. You mean if you are an artist, you are exempt from paying tax? I just couldn’t believe it. What a wonderful and forward-thinking attitude from the government – or so I thought... 

When I enquired about which artists are entitled to this pretty unique tax break, Joe answered that all artists and musicians were, BUT not tattooists. 

I thought this ludicrous and so did a bit of ‘surfing’ on the web, and found loads of info about this tax break scheme such as:

 “Providing the work is original and creative or has cultural or artistic merit then it should qualify. Section 195 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 provides that a work for the purpose of the Section is an original and creative work if it is in one of the following categories:

* Books or other forms of writing

* Plays

* Musical compositions

* Paintings or other similar pictures

* Sculptures.

In broad terms, therefore, in order to secure exemption under Section 195, your work has to be both original and creative and to have either cultural merit or artistic merit. It is not necessary for your work to have both cultural and artistic merit - the presence of either quality is sufficient.”

Reading the above description you would have thought that tattooists fit the ‘original and creative’ criteria perfectly, but apparently not. 

All you have to do is look at some of the work that not only Joe produces but also the many, many other Irish tattooists, that all tattoo some stunning ‘living’ works of art that DO have artistic merit. 

Surely a beautifully crafted tattoo shows masses of creativity and artistry that will ultimately stand the test of time and (could) be seen by more people than a dust-covered ‘old relic’ residing in a gallery ever would?

I’d love to know if there are any Irish tattooists that have been given this exemption.

On another worrying note I received a phone call from a certain “Lads’ Mag” last week and I spoke the ‘gadgets editor’ who he asked me if I could tell him where “I could get one of those tattoo kits from?”

After a few minutes of telling him about the legality and dubious quality of these kits and about tattooing from home and not being health authority registered being an offence, he just said “So where can I get one of those licenses from then?” and couldn’t grasp the fact that tattooing isn’t just about buying a ‘kit’ and having a go.

I do still believe that next month there will be a page or two in this Lads’ magazine giving people Christmas ideas of what to buy the man who has everything.  

How about a tool to scar and infect your mates?

Give me strength...


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