Museums and tax: an introduction

The Museums Association (MA) has made it a priority this year to raise awareness among its members of the tax reliefs and incentives that benefit UK museums and their donors.

We believe that in the current funding climate it is more crucial than ever for museums of all sizes and types to exploit the tax concessions available to them to their maximum potential.

This is vital not just for the financial benefit they offer during a time of widespread funding cuts, but for securing acquisitions on behalf of the nation, fostering a climate of charitable giving and establishing fruitful and ongoing relationships with both small and large donors.

It is also essential to continue proving the effectiveness of these tax measures to the Treasury so that their future is assured and the sector can persuasively argue for further reforms.

Through feedback from our members, the MA is also aware that there is a lack of clarity in the sector around other areas of taxation. Public funding cuts have led an increasing number of museums to consider measures such as diversifying income streams, moving to trust status or introducing admission charges, all of which can have complex tax implications.

While the MA cannot provide expert advice or detailed information on these matters, we would like to highlight some basic facts to give museum professionals an idea of what to expect as they embark on new business approaches.   

As a result, the MA has published this short guide to museums and tax. It is not comprehensive but it aims to signpost tax opportunities, outline common tax-related issues that affect museums and collate links and other resources where museums can go to find further information.

All of the details outlined in this guide apply across the UK as a whole unless otherwise stated. We hope this resource will stimulate museums to look closely at their current practices and find ways in which they can maximise the tax opportunities available to them.

The content of this guide is not intended to be legally or technically comprehensive and the MA cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions. While the MA has made every effort to present accurate, reliable and up-to-date data, it does so for information purposes only. The MA does not act as a tax adviser in any capacity; please seek independent advice from a licenced professional before acting on any of the information contained in this guide. No responsibility for loss or damage occasioned to any person or organisation acting or refraining from acting as a result of any statement contained in this guide can be accepted by the author, editor or the MA as publisher. The information in this guide is accurate as of October 2013.