Spain's government Friday slashed a tax on sales of works of art as a "first step" to help the cultural industry, which has been howling about the impact of a 21-percent sales tax.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government decided at a ministerial meeting to cut the sales tax for works of art by more than half, to 10 percent.
"It is a measure to support creators of works including paintings, sculptures, art galleries, art dealers, antique dealers and the world of plastic arts in general," Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told a news conference.
"It is a first step. We believe we should take a series of measures, including on taxes, to promote and defend culture in Spain," the minister said.
The sales tax on art works in France was 10 percent, Germany seven percent and Belgium six percent, she said.
Desperate to rein in a ballooning public deficit, the government raised the general sales tax to 21 percent from 18 percent in 2012.
At the same time, it eliminated a special eight-percent sales tax for cultural products including cinema and theatre tickets.