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Arts in lieu of tax nets public £50m worth of artefacts

THE LETTERS of Charles Darwin and lyrics penned by John Lennon are among hundreds of cultural artefacts donated to the public under a scheme accepting such items in place of tax.

The Acceptance in Lieu scheme run by the Arts Council for HM Revenue & Customs also received sculptures by Barbara Hepworth (pictured) and Mark Rothko in the last year, with the project taking art works worth £49.4m in 2012/13.

Now in public ownership, they will be displayed at museums, galleries and libraries.

Created in 1910, the scheme allows owners to pay inheritance tax, before being extended to allow people to donate culturally significant items to the country in return for a reduction in income tax.

When accepted, the items are given their full market value and the amount is deducted from the bills.

Cambridge University Library will receive the Darwin papers, which represent the earliest known examples of the scientist’s handwriting.

They include letters written to a (potentially fictitious) friend, and a two-page prayer he wrote at Edinburgh University.

Arts Council chair Sir Peter Bazalgette said: “For many years the Acceptance in Lieu scheme has enabled those paying inheritance tax both to meet their obligations and to enrich the national culture by transferring works of art and valuable objects to our museums and libraries. In 2012/13 the scheme brought treasures with an unprecedented commercial value of £50m into the national collections.

“If their sale had been on the open market, these works of art might have been lost to us forever: instead, this report details the beautiful and fascinating objects that can now be enjoyed by the public.”

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