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06 April 2020

Heritage property and the current coronavirus situation

The necessary closure of museums, galleries and properties open to the public may have caused some owners of national heritage properties and objects to worry about the impact such closures might have on the status of their conditional exemption tax agreements with HMRC.

In these turbulent times it is reassuring that HMRC’s heritage team were swift to announce that closing a property, or not being able to open a property, or the inability to display an object at the current time would not be considered a breach of agreements in place. The full text of this announcement is set out below.

‘Closing or delaying the opening of your property
You should follow Public Health England’s social distancing guidance if you are the owner of a national heritage property.
We will not consider that you have broken your agreement with us if you are an owner of a national heritage property who closes it, or delays its opening to later in 2020. This will apply even if it means you will miss some of the period covered by your agreement, or you do not open at all in 2020.
If the situation improves we will expect your property to be open later in the year to make up for any lost days, if possible. We would not expect additional open days next year to make up for those missed in 2020.
For objects
Objects on loan to other organisations that close due to government advice
If a conditionally exempted object is on loan to a museum, gallery or other venue which closes we will not treat the withdrawal of public access to the object as if you have broken your agreement with us.
This will apply even if it means the object is not on show at all in 2020.
Objects that can only be seen by appointment
If an object can only be seen by appointment then we will not expect you to agree to an appointment until the government’s advice changes, and you will not have broken your agreement with us’.

If you have any concerns about this area then please contact Susan Johnson, Hugo Smith or your usual BDB Pitmans contact.

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