£10m 'national treasure' in tax tussle

by Kevin Reed

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30 Nov 2012

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A TUSSLE over the tax status of a £10m Sir Joshua Reynolds masterpiece has reached the Royal Courts of Justice.

The taxman wants capital gains tax charged on the £9.4m hammer price of 'Omai', a portrait of Pacific Islanders that had sat on the walls of Castle Howard in North Yorkshire and was sold by Simon Howard.

The picture, which was part of the estate of George Howard, has seen his executors battling HM Revenue & Customs through the tax tribunals, reports the Yorkshire Post.

The executors argue that the painting should be treated as "plant", in terms of being used to run the house. Its value would have been written off after a period of time – and to illustrate the point the lack of the picture made no difference to visitor numbers. As such, it would avoid the CGT levy.

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