La dation en paiement, the French equivalent of the British Acceptance in Lieu system, was introduced in France by the law of 31 December 1968 (law no.68-1251) to promote the conservation of the national artistic heritage. Under this special tax provision, certain taxes can be paid in kind. The law states that "estate taxes can be paid by heirs, donees or legatees with works of art, books or collections items or documents of high artistic or historic value". This 1968 legislation has been confirmed and extended by successive governments, to encompass firstly inter vivos transfers and in 1973 the right of partition, and then in 1982, wealth tax.
The taxpayer makes his offer for Acceptance in Lieu to the tax authorities, and it is then examined by the Inter-ministerial Commission of approval for the conservation of the national artistic heritage. Subject to the recommendation of the commission, the Minister for the Budget decides whether to accept or refuse the work offered, and notifies the taxpayer, who then acknowledges receipt. Having become the property of the State, the work then enters the national collections.
The Inter-ministerial Commission consists of five members: two representatives from the Ministry for the Budget, two representatives from the Ministry of Culture and Communication, and a President appointed by the Prime Minister, currently Jean-Pierre Changeux, a member of the Institute and responsible to the Ministry of National Education.
This provision of Acceptance in Lieu has enabled notable works to enter the national heritage, works such as Vermeer's The Astronomer, Fragonard'sPortrait of Diderot, Courbet's Fragonard, de Origin of the World de Courbet, collections at the Musée Picasso, Wall of Objects by André Breton, and works by Braque, Matisse, Bacon, Calder and Rothko.
Also accepted in lieu were the Rethel treasure and Boscoreale treasure, royal furniture, a large part of the archives of Viollet-le-Duc and Claude Lévi-Strauss, and manuscripts by Montesquieu, Jules Verne, Marcel Proust, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Among the many other works also accepted are Katia and Maurice Krafft's volcanology collection, Roger Caillois' mineral collection, the archives of Louis de Broglie, Hiller helicopters, Bull computers, car prototypes, and even coleoptera from the Camargue, some species of which have now disappeared.