On a rainy Friday night in Mexico’s capital, Antonio ‘Gritón’ Ortiz poured himself a glass of tequila. Across the room, “The Girl from Ipanema” quietly seeped from a paint-splattered radio.
Ah, yes, the scene has been set. The man is an artiste. And he is painting his taxes!
For the past 28 years, Gritón has not paid a dime to the Tax Administration Service (SAT), the Mexican equivalent of the IRS. But he is no criminal. In fact, in a country that has lost an estimated $872 billion to money laundering and tax evasion over the past four decades, Gritón is in good standing with the law. Like more than 700 artists across Mexico, he takes part in a Pago en Especie (Payment in Kind) program—the only one of its type in the world—that allows artists to pay federal income taxes with their own artwork.
Now, Mexico has thousands of pieces of visual tax-art in a rad public collection. (Only painters, sculptors, and graphic artists can currently participate in the program, although the administration is currently deciding whether or not to allow performance art submissions, which seems... good luck with that.) One tax lawyer surmises that the program is in no danger of the cuts that have hit other countries' arts-supporting tax incentives: "The truth is, before, most artists simply didn’t pay their taxes.” [The Atlantic]