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Tax relief for UK's free-to-enter museums in 2016 Budget

By Tom Anstey    17 Mar 2016
The VAT rebate previously only applied to to either national or university museums and galleries / Shutterstock.com

UK museums offering free entry are to get tax relief aimed at helping to cover the costs of developing either temporary or touring exhibitions.

Part of chancellor George Osborne's 2016 Budget, the tax refund scheme will allow organisations fitting the criteria to claim a rebate on “VAT incurred on most goods and services purchased in order to grant free rights of admission to collections” – something which previously only applied to either national or university museums and galleries.

Additionally, temporary or touring exhibitions will be granted tax relief starting April 2017. A consultation into the tax relief for temporary and touring exhibition costs will be launched in Q3.

To be eligible for the scheme, the museums or galleries must be open to the public at least 30 hours a week, offer free entry without appointment, hold collections in a purpose-built building and display details of free entry and opening hours on their website.

Culture featured heavily in this year’s budget, with £13m (US$18.6m, €16.5m) allocated to Hull’s preparations for the City of Culture arts festival in 2017, £5m (US$7.1m, €6.3m) for the Shakespeare North Trust to go towards towards creating a £26m (US$37.1m, €33m) Jacobean style theatre in Prescot and £5m (US$7.2m, €6.3m) for the V&A in Dundee’s fundraising campaign. The chancellor also announced that bids are being accepted from northern cities and towns to host the £20m (US$28.6m, €25.3m) Great Exhibition of the North, while a £20m (US$28.5m, €25.3m) provision across 2016-17 and 2017-18 will fund the repair of cathedrals across the country.

Further information relating to the VAT scheme can be accessed here.

2016 budget  museums  George Osborne  
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