Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Buy a New Violin

Back in 1989 or 1990, a couple of violinists from the New York Philharmonic (Richard and Fiona Simon) took the IRS to court over some deductions which had been disallowed.  That case, which they won in U.S. Tax Court in 1994, firmly established that a violinist is lawfully entitled to depreciate the cost of his instrument (over a number of years), be it a humble Roth, a copy of a Strad, or a Guarnerius, even if the instrument is actually appreciating in value.  In any number of metropolitan orchestras around the country, a typical violinist can spend $5 or $10 thousand on a violin.  In a major orchestra, the norm is closer to $100,000.  In a world class orchestra, perhaps $200,000 violins are not all that rare.  (I know five violinists in our own orchestra who own very pricy violins.)  Of course, if you’re a concert violinist, you don’t own your violin, you borrow it.  But if you can afford to, it would be wise to buy a new, expensive violin every five years or so just to be able to take the allowable depreciation against your earnings.  When you hear that so-and-so recently fell in love with a new Guadagnini or a new Stradivarius (or what-have-you) and just had to have it, this might be part of the reason. 

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