British Museum in legal dispute over £720,000 tax bill

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 22.06.2016
Restaurants and gift shop excluded from charity tax relief
The British Museum (BM) was in court last week to dispute a £720,000 tax bill from Camden Council.

The museum is challenging a decision originally made by the Valuation Office Agency that the museum’s Gallery Café, Great Court Restaurant and gift shop were not eligible for charity relief and would be liable to pay full business rates.

The BM appealed to Camden Council to reject this ruling but it chose to uphold the Valuation Office Agency’s rating.

The museum is now contesting the case. A spokeswoman for the BM said: “As a charity which applies all of its funds for charitable purposes the museum considers that charitable relief against business rates should be applied to the whole of its site.”

Last week’s court appointment at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court was an interim hearing in the proceedings. The full hearing will take place at a later date.

A Camden Council spokesman said: “The Valuation Office Agency has now rated the shops and restaurants separately from the museum.
 
“The case revolves around an application for charity relief to be applied to the shops and restaurants, which the council has rejected.”

The museum’s two restaurants have been run by the private catering company Benugo since 2012. A spokeswoman for the firm told Camden New Journal last week that as food and drink provider for the two restaurants it “is not liable for the payment of any property rates”.

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