In England, tax breaks for owners of masterpieces in exchange for public access to them were just a scheme for tax evasion Automatic translate
In the UK, owners of 115,000 works of art are exempted from paying inheritance or capital gains tax in exchange for their promise to provide public access to their masterpieces, but in reality it’s not at all easy to look at these works.
The preferential tax scheme was developed by the British government in the public interest, but practice shows that it urgently needs to be reformed, since it does not work by itself.
More than 115,000 works, from Roman busts of Titian to the most important works of the Pre-Raphaelites, appear in the rarely publicized database of the British Customs and Duty Service (HMRC). Their owners are exempt from inheritance tax or capital gains tax as long as they provide public access to their treasures. However, a recent survey showed that this access is fragmented at best. Owners, of course, do not refuse access, but out of 30 requests, a maximum of 5 is satisfied.
Helen Goodman, a member of the British Labor Party, said the other day that she was not surprised by the results of the poll and had already initiated parliamentary discussion of this issue. “There is consensus that we should do more to provide access to these facilities. It really is a bit of blackmail, but we must increase the pressure on people. ”
According to the existing scheme, the inheritance tax can be deferred if the owner of the work of art is obliged to leave the work in the country, and makes them available to the public. Goodman said that “this is an incredibly small obligation” for owners to provide access for no more than 28 days a year.
“You can easily open your home and make your masterpiece truly accessible during these 28 days, but no one does,” Goodman said. “Or does not systematically. I know it. Owners respond to one-time requests like this: Ah, yes, you can come and see him on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from November to February. ”
Meanwhile, this scheme of preferential taxation in recent decades has cost the state treasury more than £ 1 billion of lost income. Goodman presented in Parliament an accurate estimate, according to which the UK receives less than £ 30 million in taxes per year, i.e. over the past 30 years of the law, this amount amounted to 900 million. Until 1975, 45,000 art objects were exempted from inheritance tax, which, according to the Treasury, is 250 million in monetary terms. Thus, the total amount of taxes that the British treasury did not receive, is 1.15 billion pounds.
The database of works of art, which you can theoretically see for free in the house of their owner, can be found on the website at HMRC. However, as the journalistic investigation has revealed, it often turns out that the information on the site does not correspond to reality: the specified address is out of date, or the work has long been transported to another part of the country, or the phone number indicated for inquiries does not respond. Often, owners of paintings respond that they transferred them for temporary use to some museums or galleries (which is not always true), or ask them to send your request to the email address with a copy of documents proving your identity.
In connection with all this, Goodman proposed doubling the mandatory period during which universal access to works of art should be open, making the database more open, including posting photographs of the works themselves, and also prohibiting owners from “lending” their masterpieces to galleries. “These are pretty tough measures, but we are talking about art hidden from society, because of which the state suffers significant losses,” Goodman said.
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