York Museums Trust wins business rates case 4/7/2017

York Museums Trust has received a rebate of £100k on a decade’s worth of backdated business rates after winning a case about how charges are calculated. The case may have a significant effect on how rates are set for other museums in England and Wales. The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) agreed with the Trust that business rates should be set based on net income, and not by how much a building would cost to rebuild. The Tribunal also agreed that areas used by both the commercial and charity arm of the museum – such as York Castle Museum, which contains a shop – should receive the 80% rebate for buildings with a charitable purpose. The Trust will save £10k each year in rates as a result of the case. Colin Hunter, who acted as the Trust’s expert witness said “the outcome of the appeal reflects more than a decade of discussions with the VOA on behalf of York Museums Trust and the Association of Independent Museums. This decision will not only help museums in York, it could also help the 767 museums valued on this basis in England and Wales. The VOA’s attempt to separate out the values of shops and offices is the most financially damaging aspect of the case. Had their appeal succeeded, its implications would not only affect museums, it would have significant repercussions for any charity with a trading subsidiary.” Other museums will not be automatically reassessed in the light of the case: museums interested in appealing backdated business rates must do so before 30th September.  YMT, Museums Journal, AIM, York Press