Vincent van Gogh, Head of a Peasant Woman, about 1884. © The National Gallery, London

Art worth £44m gifted to UK collections

Rebecca Atkinson, 04.12.2014
Four donations made under new Cultural Gifts Scheme
Twenty-seven cultural gifts worth £44.3m were given to public collections last year – but just four of these were made under a new tax incentive designed to encourage philanthropic giving.

The Cultural Gifts Scheme was launched in March 2013 and offers a tax reduction based on a set percentage of the value of the artwork or heritage object donated. It is currently managed as part of the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, which enables taxpayers to use works of art and other heritage objects to pay inheritance tax.

A report published by Arts Council England (ACE), which administers the schemes on behalf of the government, shows that 30 gifts worth £49.3m were made in 2012-13, settling £30m of tax. This included one donation made under the Cultural Gifts Scheme, which was launched just a few weeks before the end of the tax year.

In 2013-14, the number of gifts fell slightly to 27, with a total value of £44.3m and settling £30m of tax.

Of this, £537,397 of settled tax came from the four donations made under the Cultural Gifts Scheme – including £495,000 from the donation of Vincent Van Gogh’s Head of a Peasant Woman to the National Gallery in London.

In its report, ACE said that it was “early days” for the Cultural Gifts Scheme. It added that it once it has produced new guidance on cultural gifts for museums to pass on to potential donors, it will be able to promote the scheme more widely.

A spokeswoman for the arts council said: “We do not consider a four-fold increase to be low or disappointing. We are delighted that there are generous donors who are making use of the scheme, which has already had a very positive impact on the galleries that have benefited from the material that donors have gifted. 

“It is encouraging that museums and galleries throughout the country have engaged with donors to build up the Cultural Gifts Scheme. We are also very pleased that the scheme has the full financial support of the government and it hardly needs stating that the fact that there are funds to support it is going to encourage those who are thinking of making a gift through the Cultural Gifts Scheme to do so.”

It is also hoped that a £10m increase to the shared budget for Acceptance in Lieu and the Cultural Gifts Scheme, which came into effect in April and brings the tax relief cap to £40m, will help increase the number of gifts made under the scheme.

The amount of tax settled through Acceptance in Lieu remains at record high levels following the annual tax threshold being increased in 2012-13 from £20m to £30m in recognition of the inclusion of donations under the Cultural Gifts Scheme. Prior to that, 25 gifts were made in 2011-12 worth £31.3m and settling £20m of tax.

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Tax incentives for acquisitions

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