Historic Houses and the new “Mansion Tax”
There is hope that not all company owned historic houses will be required to pay the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings.  Mansion Tax, more correctly termed the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings, threatened to have a serious impact on those historic houses which were held in companies.  Although the final details of the Chancellor’s latest budget will not be clarified until the Finance Act is passed by Parliament, probably in July, it looks as though at least some company owned historic houses could be excluded.

From 1st April 2013, the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) will be charged on properties valued at over £2 million on or any time after 1st April 2012, if they are owned by a company.  This could have a significant impact on a number of historic houses where owners have sought to generate an income by opening to the public.

The fact is that Britain’s built heritage, and in particular its wealth of historic houses, plays a key part in attracting overseas visitors.  The importance of tourism has been recognised by the Government as too has the significant effort made by owners to raise funds to help maintain their historic buildings by opening them to the public.

HMRC has announced that a company owning an historic house, which is opened to the public for at least 28 days a year may be able to claim relief from ATED.  Access must be to a “significant” part of the property, not just the odd room.  It must also be on a commercial basis even if it is not actually profitable.  It will, however be in order for someone connected with the property to still live in the house.

Full details of the conditions attached to this concession have yet to be announced but HMRC have undertaken to provide detailed guidance on the conditions before July, 2013.  Indications are that opening to the public can include such activities as wedding receptions as well as the more traditional open days.

The signs are certainly encouraging and it would appear that the Government have acknowledged the importance historic houses play not just in the local economy but as a major source of tourism which is a major boost to the UK economy.

At present there are no plans for historic houses that are privately owned being charged ATED.

Dawn Carritt

April 2013