Museums and galleries tax relief: consultation and update

Update, 14 July 2017: the Museums and Galleries Tax Relief will be part of a new Finance Bill this summer.

Update, 17 May 2017: On 27 April 2017, a significantly reduced Finance Bill received Royal Assent and became the 2017 Finance Act. One of the items which was dropped from the final Finance Bill was Museum and Galleries Tax Relief. We understand that there has been no policy change by the Government and clauses were removed from the final Bill due to the general election. As such, we would expect to see the dropped clauses reappear in a summer Finance Bill should the current Government remain in power. As Museum and Galleries Tax Relief was intended to take effect from 1 April 2017, there will be uncertainty in the interim period.

Update, 23 November 2016: the Autumn Statement has included an update on Museums and Galleries Tax Relief.

HM Treasury has published further details of the forthcoming museums and galleries tax relief. We first blogged about this relief in May; it looks like it might be largely as anticipated. Key points to note are:


  • The consultation first mentioned in the 2016 Budget has now concluded.
  • Draft legislation will be published in Autumn 2016.
  • The tax relief will be available from 1 April 2017.

Relief rates

  • The rates have not yet been published; we expect them to be similar to theatre tax relief rates (20% tax credit for non-touring, and 25% for touring) as HMRC are keen “to keep the model of tax relief as close as possible to the existing creative sector tax reliefs to ensure fairness.”

Who will be able to claim Museums and Galleries Tax Relief?

  • The relief will take the form of a deduction for corporation tax purposes. This means that an organisation must be within the scope of corporation taxes to be eligible.
  • The relief will be available for temporary or touring exhibitions only, not general day-to-day running costs of a gallery or museum.
  • The relief is only open to charities, trading subsidiaries of charities, or subsidiary companies under the control of local authorities. Commercial organisations that run museums or galleries won’t be eligible.
  • The relief can only be claimed for exhibitions that are open to the public. Exhibitions that are solely for selling purposes (eg an art exhibition solely for the purpose of selling the artworks) won’t be able to claim.

(HM Treasury is proposing to define a museum as a “building or place devoted to the conservation, exhibition and educational interpretation of collections having scientific, historical or artistic interest”, and a gallery as a “building or place that is used for the exhibition and educational interpretation of a collection of objects having scientific, historical or artistic interest.”)

What are temporary and touring exhibitions?

  • An exhibition is temporary if it is open for not more than one year in a single location.
  • An exhibition is classified as touring if, during the planning stage, there is evidence that the exhibition is intended to be shown in at least one other museum or gallery (this includes a different branch of the same gallery or museum).

Nuts and bolts

  • The relief is proposed to work in the same way as other creative industry tax reliefs: an additional deduction amounting to 80% of core expenditure which can be surrendered for a tax credit.
  • Core expenditure is expenditure incurred on the creative and set-up costs of temporary or touring exhibitions.
  • Each exhibition will need to be treated as a separate trade for corporation tax purposes. In practice this means a separate claim will need to be made for each exhibition, each with a breakdown of all costs and income. The consultation notes the use of trading subsidiaries as a common structure within the creative industries, but this is not compulsory: we have assisted clients with theatre and video game tax relief claims where all activities are through one business.

See the full consultation and proposal on the Treasury website. If you have any questions about Museums and Galleries Tax Relief, or other creative industry tax reliefs, ask us via or 0131 5585800.

See more about other creative industry tax reliefs.