Commentary

I7.507 Undertakings—public access

IHT, trusts and estates

I7.507 Undertakings—public access

I7.507 Undertakings—public access

Temporary changes to public access rules for coronavirus (Covid-19)

HMRC has updated its guidance on the conditional exemption tax incentive scheme to extend the temporary relaxations made as a result of coronavirus until July 2021. Those changes ensure that heritage properties will not lose their qualifying status under the scheme where they have not been able to meet various conditions because of pandemic restrictions (for example, where a property has closed or delayed reopening in order to follow local authority social distancing guidance). See Capital taxation and tax-exempt heritage assets and A8.301.

Undertakings given on or after the passing of FA 1998

For undertakings given on or after 31 July 1998 public access must be 'open'—ie it cannot be confined to access by prior appointment only1. The person giving the undertaking may also be required to publish the undertaking and other information about the property which would previously have been permitted to remain confidential2.

HMRC do not follow a prescriptive approach to open access, but interpret the legislation broadly as requiring an acceptable quality and quantity of access on an annual basis3. They state that the access arrangements must be workable from the outset, but must not be rigid. They can contain contingency provisions if the primary access agreed collapses. They will accommodate an owner's reasonable alternative proposals provided there is no interruption to access and no delay in commencement. The likely public appeal of the work of art will be an important factor in determining suitable

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