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Artist is requesting customers' personal info

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A DIGITAL artist is requesting people who commission her for personal use commissions provide her with their full name, e-mail address, postal address, and payment information.  I'm wary about this, as she is not doing commercial commissions or  traditional commissions that need to be shipped anywhere.  She also says one of the reasons she wants personal info is so she can give it to her accountant.  Is this a red flag or is the artist just doing what she needs to do to pay her taxes?  The artist apparently has gotten concerned feedback from people about this, because she has written this statement:

I rely on a number of legal bases to collect, use and share your information such as information needed to fulfill your order, to settle disputes or provide customer support. Information necessary to comply with a legal obligation or court order or in connection with a legal claim, such as retaining information about your purposes if required by tax law.

I share your personal information for very limited reasons an in limited circumstances.  In order to fulfill my tax duty I share your name, e-mail address and payment information with my accountant. I also may collect, use retain and share your information if I have good faith belief it is reasonably necessary to respond to legal process or to government requests, enforce our agreements, terms and policies, prevent, investigate and address fraud and other illegal activity, security or technical issues, protect the rights, property and safety of our customers or others.

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If her commissions are purely done in digital medium, then there should be no actual need for client addresses, as far as I know. The client's state may be necessary to ensure proper payment of sales taxes due to some specific state laws (PA requires you to pay taxes on pretty much all online purchases now), but that's really the entirety of the relevance. Payment information should be as simple as your Paypal address. If she's demanding credit card or bank info via email or other online communication, that's a definite red flag.

Regardless, I'm not sure she should be trying to preemptively collect "information necessary to comply with a legal obligation or court order." To me, that's kind of a major turn off. It suggests the very real possibility of legal problems in her past that may have required the courts to be involved in order to reach any kind of resolution.

Personally, I would run far far away from this artist and never look back.

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I do not plan on doing business with the artist.  I just saw it and was like, NO WAY.

I've seen several artists requesting personal info for "their accountants" and it made me wonder if there was a legitimate need for it, or if they are just doing it because they're afraid of being scammed. A few of the artists I follow have started asking for customers to do stuff like scan their government IDS because they got charge backs and I'm thinking the artists who want addresses, and all this other information, are also worried.

The court order comment on their page also scared me and makes my skin crawl.

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I absolutely would not do work for them. I do not know of taxes ANYWHERE that need personal information for sales. I frequently talk taxes with artists all over to the world, but none have said they do. I know for sure in Canada, it is absolutely not needed.

To prove your income you just print out the list of paypal transactions. Thats all they wanted here, and I know another US friend had to do the same.
The person above makes a good suggestion that, the artist personally, may need that info due to something that happened to them, legally, and they need to provide that info, not that the state requires it.

I would never buy from anyone requesting my personal information.

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I found someone else (a different person than the court order artist) who was requesting " please share your full name and address with me at the time of payment with Paypal. I will only use this information for tax purposes. "

This second person has a rule that if you are buying a commercial commission for them (such as an Amazon book cover) they want the person's VAT or tax ID number  I've ordered commercial commissions before and no one has ever asked for that kind of info. 


In case I approve it, I'll reply with the total amount in € (commission +4% fee for bank account transfers, +8% fee for Paypal transfers) and here's what I need before sending you a pro forma invoice:
  • Your Paypal or Bank account
  • Your name and surname, legal address, country, state
  • If you're not a private person, I need your VAT number (tax EIN in US, le numéro de TVA FR, Partita IVA for Italy, etc.) of your society/organization too
I will keep these info confidential. 
They will only appear in the final invoice for the revenue agency in my country.
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You cannot charge customers the paypal fees. Plus, 8% is way higher than paypals actual fees. I dont know the legallity of charging your bank fees to your customers, but my bank has no transfer fee for either party. Charging a paypal fee to your customers can have your account shut down.


EDIT; It's kinda phrased like Im saying you're charging it; I know youre not. I would avoid anyone that wants legal info and paypal fees tacked on.

Edited by theodor
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  • Administrator

I wouldn't work with any of these people.

I have an accountant and pay state taxes to the comptroller's office.  No one ever has required the personal information of my clients.  I submit a total for the quarter and it's done.  Furthermore storage of client PII outside of Paypal requires them to legally have a privacy disclosure.  AB has one because we store email addresses.

I also do commercial items and have a relationship with a fellow Texas operated shop. Now that I did need some contact information so I could fill out copyright transfer paperwork for them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As someone who freelances and files taxes, there is absolutely zero reason they should need to use individual client information when filing taxes. The only information you need is the amount of money you've made through the tax year and how much you've paid into taxes when filing. That is a huge redflag and something I have literally never heard of. 

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I appreciate everyone confirming that this is not normal.

I think the artists with these policies are either very confused about what they need to provide to their accountants or they are terrified of getting charge backs and requesting personal information "under the guise of having to provide it to their accountant." I suspect #2, because there has been a creep towards "ask for personal information" to prevent chargebacks/avoid getting commissioned by minors.  I am seeing more artists say they are considering government IDs (https://artists-beware.livejournal.com/1027555.html) and find out as much as you can about your client.  Well, asking for VAT and TAX ID numbers is certainly getting to know your client to a whole another level...and not a good one.

Edited by Mortymaxwell
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