California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

December 08, 2009Mary Beth Barber

California Arts Council Announces Arts License Plate Fees Are Now Charitable Deductions, Launches Goal of One Million New Arts License Plates On California Cars

Funds Will Take California to Top in Arts Programming Funding

Sacramento -

A recent clarification from a state tax agency could be a significant boon for the arts in the state. California Arts License Plate fees are charitable deductions to the State of California for tax purposes, according to the Franchise Tax Board. The clarification comes just in time for the holidays and end-of-year charitable planning and serves as a platform to launch a goal of affixing one million new arts plates to California cars.

Whether the additional fees Californians voluntarily pay for Arts Plates were considered a charitable contribution to the State of California was in question for years.

The recent clarification is especially helpful for businesses and residents looking to support arts statewide. Sales and renewals of the Arts Plate account for over 60 percent of the California Arts Council's budget. Currently the state's per capita investment in the arts is around 10 cents per person even with the Arts Plate funds, putting California in last place compared to other states in the nation.

"It's a crucial time for the arts in California," said Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Chair of the California Arts Council. "Our economy relies on creative minds, artistic organizations and innovative workers, yet our per capita state investment in the arts is the lowest in the nation. Individuals and businesses can help change that by buying Arts Plates, especially for the upcoming holidays and as part of end-of-year charitable donations."

"One million cars with California Arts Plates would mean close to $40 million for the arts," continued Feruzzi Shriver. "That would put California near the top in arts funding rather than dead last."

The California Arts Council is the state agency that advances California through the arts and creativity, and the agency's programs emphasize arts for children and communities. The Arts Plate, designed by California artist Wayne Thiebaud, first hit the roadways in 1994. Since then sales and renewals of the plate have provided over $20 million for the arts in California. Fees for sales and renewals of the Arts Plate go directly into the Arts Plate Fund, minus the Department of Motor Vehicles' cost to fabricate and administer the plate.

For more information about the California Arts License Plate, contact the California Arts Council's communication director Mary Beth Barber at (916) 322-6588, (916) 835-5580 (cell) or More information on the Arts License Plate may be found on the California Arts Council's website at



The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the Arts and Creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Vice Chair Eunice David, Michael Alexander, Adam Hubbard, Charmaine Jefferson, Chong-Moon Lee, Fred Sands, Karen Skelton, Susan Steinhauser and William Turner.

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