I try to seize every opportunity I can to learn about art.  In preparing today’s blog, I was intrigued to read about the UK’s Cultural Gifts Scheme and its relationship to estates.

The Cultural Gifts Scheme & Acceptance in Lieu allows UK taxpayers to donate important works of art and other heritage objects in return for a tax reduction, which includes inheritance tax.  The donated work is then held for the benefit of the public or the nation at an eligible museum or gallery.  According to this article from the Guardian, the Scheme was first introduced in 1910 as a way of allowing individuals to offset inheritance tax bills, and later, in 2013, to allow individuals to be able to make donations during their lifetime in order to offset future tax liabilities.

Any art admirer should have a look at the 2018-2019 Annual Report which provides a list of items that were received, along with some pretty pictures of the items :).  It is a feast for the eyes and the senses.  Some of the highlights include:

  • a Portrait of the Emperor Charles V by Peter Rubens, which has gone to the Royal Armouries in Leeds
  • a platinum and diamond necklace with black velvet ribbons, convertible to a brooch, made by Cartier in Paris c. 1908-1910, which has been allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum
  • 361 botanical drawings by the illustrator Florence Helen Woolward
  • Bernardo Bellotto’s painting of Venice on Ascension Day, which settled £7 million of tax
  • Damien Hirst’s Wretched War sculpture, given by the artist’s former business manager Frank Dunphy settling £90,000 in tax

In Canada, although art can be subject to capital gains, and possibly other taxes, it is possible for a donor to limit, or avoid the tax altogether, including by way of claiming a charitable tax credit.  Individuals thinking about estate planning and/or donating art should seek the advice of a professional advisor to maximize the amount of savings.

Thanks for reading,
Noah Weisberg

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