Nowadays, the situation of private owners can sometimes prove to be difficult, as they face growing expectations from the public, an increasing number of regulations imposed by governments (on accessibility, for instance), but reduced subsidies in these times of economic downturn. However, private owners of historic houses and gardens greatly contribute to the tourism sector in Europe, as almost 50% of listed building are in private hands: cultural heritage generated € 335 billion in 2010 for the European tourism sector, of which 35% derived from private historic houses.

The European Historic Houses Association has been working to promote a reduced VAT rate for ‘heritage works’ in the European Union, be it renovation or maintenance work for historic monuments (religious, industrial, archeological etc.). In 2016, the Association – together with ELO, the European Property Federation (EPF), The European Group of Valuers’ Associations (TEGoVA), and UIPI – sent a Joint Position to the European Commission, as well as a Letter to the President and the Vice-president of the European Commission, and to the Commissioner
for fiscal issues and taxation.

The Association had already worked on this issue in 2008, when the Commission had planned to grant this deduction to historic buildings – a provision removed by the Council of the European Union. Some progress have been made since, notably with the European Parliament’s Resolution ‘Towards an integrated approach for cultural heritage for Europe’ (COM (2014) 477 final, 22nd July 2014) referring explicitly to fiscal policies and highlighting the potential benefits of reduced VAT rates, or other taxes, for private bodies.

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