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April 3, 2014

Paintings Can be Plant and Machinery - Castle Howard Case Update

Owners of stately homes are a fairly rare breed but those that open their doors to the public will be considering whether they can benefit from a recent Court of Appeal Case.

The ongoing saga of HMRC v The Executors of Lord Howard of Henderskelfe recently reached the Court of Appeal.  The taxpayer came out on top again in this round of judgements having previously being successful in the Upper Tribunal and High Court.  With a lot of tax at stake it is likely that HMRC will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but we must wait to see.  HMRC had been provided with initial encouragement after a win in the First Tier Tribunal.

Crux of the Case

The late Lord Howard's estate sold a 'Old Master’ painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds for a significant gain.  They claimed an exemption from capital gains tax as they believed it was plant and machinery and therefore a wasting asset.

Leading precedent in the consideration of whether an asset is plant and machinery is Yarmouth v France.

As the painting had been loaned to an associated trading company whose business was inviting the general public to view the house, the Court held that the asset was kept for permanent employment in a business.  Therefore, as it was a chattel it was plant and machinery, which qualified as a wasting asset and for the beneficial CGT treatment.

For a more detailed analysis see our previous blog regarding the earlier High Court decision.

See our December 2014 Tax Update for more recent cases.

Contact us today to discuss your tax requirements.
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