Thursday 22 January 2015

Reynolds' portrait of Omai: Taxpayer's final victory

In March last year, the Upper Tier Tribunal gave judgment in a long-running case surrounding the sale of Sir Joshua Reynolds’ iconic eighteenth century portrait of the South Sea Islander Omai.

Sir Joshua Reynolds' Portrait of Omai, c.1775
That judgment was in the taxpayer’s favour, with the Upper Tier Tribunal agreeing that the painting, which had been sold for £9.4 million, was a “wasting asset” and that the sale proceeds were therefore exempt from capital gains tax. Reports on the First Tier Tribunal’s decision and the Upper Tier Tribunal’s decision can be found here and here.

Now, in a final victory for the taxpayer, HMRC have been refused permission to appeal the decision on the grounds that their application does not raise an arguable point of law. The case which began with the painting’s sale at auction in 2001 has finally, fourteen years later, come to a close – and the taxpayers can go home knowing that the taxman won’t come calling again. 

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