Priceless Artefacts Settle Inheritance Tax Debt In 2019

The Acceptance in Lieu scheme ended the year acquiring six Rembrandt etchings to settle an inheritance tax debt worth in excess of £150,000. 

UK tax law introduced the Acceptance in Lieu scheme to allow inheritance tax debts to be settled by permitting the estate to donate objects of national importance. 

For many estates which may be unable to pay a tax bill with cash assets, this option has become an important way to settle inheritance tax debts. In 2019, over £33 million worth of important works of art and heritage objects were acquired and brought into public ownership. 

Furthermore, throughout the last decade, inheritance tax debts worth £235 million was settled using the Acceptance in Lieu scheme and equating to treasures valued at £378 million. 

Amongst the artefacts donated last year Three Old Master paintings and three works on paper from the John Green collection were used to wipe out inheritance debts of £4,581,500 and Bernardo Bellotto’s ‘Venice: The Bucintoro at the Molo on Ascension Day,’ settling debts worth £7 million. 

The Rembrandt etchings, which date from 1630 to 1650 have since been donated to the Ulster Museum with depictions of Six’s Bridge and the Adoration of the Shepherds already on display. 

The remaining pieces are also set to make up a wider Rembrandt exhibition which will focus on his influence on printmaking.  

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI, said:  

“This gift immeasurably transforms the Ulster Museum collection, as these are the first works by Rembrandt to enter a public collection in Northern Ireland. 

“We are very grateful to Arts Council England for this allocation from the acceptance in lieu scheme. 

“We are so excited for the opportunity for our visitors, from here and further afield, to see the work of one of the world’s most celebrated artists in Belfast.” 

Edward Harley, Chair of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel, commented in the 2019 ‘Cultural Gifts Scheme & Acceptance in Lieu Report’: 

“The two schemes have been successful and wide ranging in the last year. It is the first time ever that the total amount of tax settled has exceeded £30 million, thus making use of the increased tax allowance, provided for in 2014, that can be written off each year through the CGS and AIL.  

“This has meant that objects with an agreed value of nearly £60 million have come into public ownership.  

“We were pleased that the objects were allocated to so many locations throughout the UK; as Sir Nicholas Serota has observed, a number of museums which had not hitherto received works of art through either of the schemes benefited for the first time. With riches such as these being allocated throughout the country, the need is ever more important for vigorous and strong museums and galleries that can make these items come alive for the communities they serve.”

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