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Wasting assets in the frame

When is a painting not a painting? Natasha Hassall looks at the importance of statutory definitions

28 March 2013

Tax cases are not always interesting. But earlier this month the Upper Tier Tax Tribunal made a fascinating decision about capital gains tax (CGT) in relation to the sale of a well-known painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

The portrait was of South Sea Islander Omai, who gained a degree of fame in the late 18th century when he was brought to England by Captain Cook. It was displayed at the Royal Academy in 1776, later sold to the Earl of Carlisle and kept at stately home Castle Howard in Yorkshire for many years, where latterly it was on public display. In 2001, the painting fetched the second-highest price any English painting had achieved at the time.

The Upper Tier Tax Tribunal decided that the executors who sold the painting were not liable to CGT b...

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