Valkyries 1 - Vatman 0 - what a result!
A SMALL country house opera company won a landmark Appeal Court battle against the Treasury yesterday over attempts to remove its VAT exemption on ticket sales.
The ruling, in favour of the Gloucestershire-based Longborough Festival Opera, has important implications for hundreds of other arts charities, many of which rely on tax breaks to survive.
Appeal Court judges ruled that Revenue & Customs wrongly stripped the opera company of its “cultural purposes exemption” after accusing Martin Graham, its founding trustee, of having a financial interest in the company because he had offered to underwrite losses in a production of Wagner’s 16-hour epic Ring Cycle. ...
Mr Graham said: “This decision has huge implications for all arts charities nationally right the way up to big organisations like the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne.
“Just about every major arts organisation is a charity, which means that we get all sorts of tax breaks. I suspect HMRC had a sinister motive in chasing such a tiny company on such spurious grounds. Had they been successful in destroying LFO they would have moved against many other much larger arts organisations . . . The attractions of these targets is simply their turnover. Imagine the tax brigands salivating at the prospect of 17.5 per cent of the Royal Opera House takings.”
Mr Graham celebrated yesterday outside court with members of the company dressed as Valkyries carrying the fake corpse of a VAT man. The company, which gives any profits to charity, specialises in productions by Wagner
Off out to play The Ride of the Valkyries full volume on the MP3 player as I walk the dogs!