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Museums and galleries tax relief


The Museums Tax Relief allows museums and exhibitors to recoup expenses on exhibitions, based on their status.

Please ensure that if you are pursuing applying for the relief that you contact a tax accountant to talk about your specific situation.

The Museums Tax Relief finally passed into law on 16 November 2017, having been originally delayed by the June 2017 snap election. Applications to the relief can be backdated to 1 April 2017.

Who is it relevant for?

All museums with a public function who hold exhibitions.

When is it relevant?

For any museum when developing exhibitions – be they touring, temporary or permanent.

What is it?

This relief will support museums and galleries to develop new exhibitions for the public and allows them to reclaim some of the costs.  Getting down to some figures; the overall limit is £500k of core expenditure per exhibition.  It applies at rates of 20% for non-touring exhibitions and 25% for touring exhibitions.

What does it cover?

The relief covers all costs involved in producing the exhibition, including curator fees, cost of deinstalling and closing.

What doesn't it cover?

It doesn’t include indirect costs like marketing, raising of finance, legal services, advertising and security.  Some more detailed areas of exclusion are –

  • Running costs from day of opening
  • Invigilation costs
  • Storage if not in 6 month touring period

How do I apply?

This can be applied for in company tax return so some pointers are

  • You need to claim through a company
  • You can apply if don’t pay corporation tax
  • You may want to use a trading subsidiary

Learn more

There are already some sources out there with more information.

HMRC guidance for the tax relief can be found on their website.

HMRC also produced a useful paper on responses to the consultation. We found this paper helpful to understand the shape of the tax relief and why certain decisions had been made.  

Arts Council England have produced a useful set of FAQs with links to the legislation

Tax experts Azets have provided a factsheet about the relief.

Arts and Business Scotland also have broader tax advice sheets from Scott Moncrieff on their website.

Azets Museums and Galleries Tax Relief Helpline

MGS and Azets have partnered up to offer museums and galleries a free helpline for tax-related queries. Azets will offer a free 10 minute telephone consultation to anyone from a museum with questions around the Museums and Galleries Tax Relief or the Digital VAT Returns (Making Tax Digital). 

Helpline contacts:

Azets – 0131 473 3500

Kirsty Murray – queries on Museums and Galleries Tax Relief

Scott Craig – queries around Making Tax Digital