In September, the culturally rich and euro poor nation of Spain enacted yet another measure aimed at getting its louche fiscal house in order: raising taxes on the arts. Cultural institutions from the famed Madrid Opera House to the neighborhood cinema saw the tax rate rise to 21% from 8%. Facing the new burden, one small theater in northern Spain exercised its wiles by selling carrots in the lobby. These were pricey carrots, mind you, but the tax rate is a mere 4% on vegetables. As a bonus, each carrot came with a ticket to see a play.
If only the whole country were this enterprising, some say, Spain may never have found itself destitute in the first place. Or perhaps it’s a natural propensity for such schemes that drove Old Iberia down the bubbly road it’s traveled. Artists cheer the cheekiness. Regulators are more dour: tax evasion, say they, plain and simple.