Tax-relief cap will curtail major gifts
British government’s proposal to close tax loopholes upsets museums and their biggest donors
By Martin Bailey. Museums, Issue 235, May 2012
Published online: 26 April 2012
Major projects planned by the
’s leading arts organisations and
museums are threatened by tax changes that the British government is proposing
in an attempt to close loopholes enjoyed by the super-rich. In his March
budget, the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne announced a tax-relief
cap on annual donations to charity above £50,000 or a quarter of an
individual’s income, whichever is greater. Critics argue that this will
discourage very large charitable gifts, and pressure to force a U-turn was
mounting as we went to press. UK
The cap could have a particularly serious impact on large museum building projects, which are highly reliant on £1m-plus donations from private individuals and trusts. These include the extension to Tate Modern (a £215m project, which still needs £54m), the British Museum extension (£135m, needing £15m), the development of the Design Museum in Kensington (£80m, needing £18m), upgrading Tate Britain (£45m, needing £10m), the Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) project in Dundee (£45m, needing £30m) and the V&A extension in Exhibition Road (£40m, needing £25m).
Donations at risk
Growing pressure from the charities, including those raising money for health, education and the elderly, may force the British government to rethink the proposals. In the cultural sector, Arts Council England warns that donors are already considering pulling out of important projects. A council spokeswoman says that major donors have contacted some of the arts organisations it helps fund to say that if this cap is introduced, “they will not be able to support them at previous levels”. As a result, “at least £80m of regular donations to several of our largest organisations could be at risk”.