The removal of VAT on art imports post-Brexit is an “achievable goal”, dealers were told at a conference in Westminster last week.
Anthony Browne, chairman of the British Art Market Federation, told delegates at the LAPADA conference in the House of Lords that as the tax raised £52m annually for HM Treasury – “not much in overall government exchequer terms” – and costs “a huge amount” to gather, the argument for its abolition was a strong one.
“Import VAT is an important factor in our status in the global art market,” Browne told delegates. “Importing art is immensely complicated… and we will look at the government to throw us a bone. Import VAT is the one and we will pursue it. At the end of the day [abolishing it] will save HMRC money.”
Browne added that in the longer term, removing the Artist’s Resale Right (ARR) is another key objective to discuss with government.
Since the Brexit vote in June 2016, BAMF has been lobbying government on cross-border trade issues affecting the art market. Browne said his dealings with “young, intelligent and hard-working” civil servants were “a lot more thoughtful than I expected”.
Earlier, in her first speech as LAPADA’s chief executive, Patricia Stevenson spoke about her objectives for the association, including how the trade can improve the way it sells to customers and how LAPADA will develop its website.
She said: “I want to draw in this generation of collectors and the next into our world by educating and entertaining them on our site and inspiring them to go on and browse and buy from you, our dealer members.”