Update On Exhibition Tax Relief – Still Time To Call For All Museums To Benefit

AIM met with HM Treasury and HMRC last week to urge them to open the exhibition tax relief up to all museums, so that the public can benefit from better exhibitions at their local museum, wherever they live in the UK. The current proposals mean only a handful of museums will benefit, with the bulk of the relief claimed going to the nationals in London, whose temporary exhibitions often cost more than new exhibitions for a whole museum in the regions.

There is still time for this relief to be extended to all exhibitions, which would then save all museums 20% of the costs of creating and installing all new exhibitions, whether they are temporary, touring or part of the core visitor-offer for that museum. At a time when funding for new exhibitions is becoming increasingly difficult to find, this could be a vital life-line, enabling museums to ensure their core exhibitions meet the public’s growing expectations and deliver fantastic experiences. It couldn’t be more needed.

AIM members are urged to email the consultation team at HM Treasury and to copy in AIM using the email addresses below, to point out the benefits to the people visiting their museum of making all exhibitions eligible, especially if they don’t or can’t do temporary exhibitions, for instance because of not having space for them. Unless they hear from museums across the UK they will not be convinced that this is what the sector wants. Emails should be sent to:


 And also:

 Tamalie Newbery, Executive Director, AIM at:


 The deadline is 28th October 2016. This policy will apply to the whole UK.


 Photo: Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. Photographer: Hannah Rose

During AIM’s meeting at HM Treasury, AIM’s Chair, Richard Evans and Executive Director, Tamalie Newbery, were able to explain why temporary exhibitions are only used by a minority of museums and how the public’s core experience of museums is in long-term exhibitions, and therefore this is where investment through tax relief should be available.

They were also able to reassure officials that including all exhibitions in the tax relief would not result in complications in the guidance as the current proposed guidance works equally well for exhibitions of any length. Museums are easily able to separate exhibition costs from those of wider capital projects (they are usually separately tendered and funders require this degree of separation in reporting) and there is clarity about the opening dates (after which the tax relief would not apply) for long-term exhibitions, just as for short ones.

They have also been able to share figures with HM Treasury and HMRC based on data about HLF funded projects, which shows that including all exhibitions would be likely to add a very small amount to the total annual tax relief claim, when compared with the amounts claimed by other creative industry tax reliefs.

Some AIM members have been concerned that because the mechanism for the relief is corporation tax, they will not be eligible. Tamalie Newbery has been reassuring them: “Charities can still benefit from the tax relief even if they do not pay corporation tax. The mechanism for achieving this has been tested through the orchestra and theatre tax relief which is often claimed by charities. Claims are often made through an associated trading company but can be made by the main charity if it is a limited company or similar. AIM will be offering guidance to members when the tax relief starts in April next year.”

AIM has been working closely with Museums Association, NMDC and others to persuade the government of the need to open this up to all exhibitions. Please add your voice now by emailing Treasury using the email address above, by emailing Tamalie Newbery and if possible, writing to your MP.


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