Who's affected: Authors, playwrights, other writers, composers, painters, photographers, sculptors.
The bottom line: Starving artists may be a popular romantic image, but they're generally not given protected legal status, except in Ireland. A clause in the Irish tax code makes income derived from the sale of art (including books and other writings, plays, musical compositions, paintings or photos, and sculptures) exempt from taxation. Introduced in 1969 by then-Finance Minister Charles Haughey, the provision was created with the stated purpose of helping would-be Joyces and Becketts who've fallen on hard times.
After charges that not exactly down-at-the-heels groups like rock supergroup U2 were paying no taxes on income of millions of euros, the rule was modified in 2006, allowing only for 250,000 euros of income to fit under the exemption (Bono and Co. subsequently moved their official base of operations to the Netherlands). Last year, a report from Ireland's Commission on Taxation labeled the exemption unfair, but attempts to repeal the rule were stopped. So Ireland's penniless poets appear to be safe for now.