The issue of taxation is central for the European Historic Houses Association. Historic buildings represent less than 1% of real estate buildings in Europe, but they generate a very large share of the annual income for the tourism sector, which itself has a significant importance for the European economy. A reduced VAT rate for the renovation and maintenance of historic buildings would provide a tool for governments to transfer a reasonable share of the return on income to the non-profit sector. Taxation is particularly important when tackling the issue of the transmission of private assets.

On September 8, the European Parliament adopted a resolution entitled “Towards and integrated Approach to Cultural Heritage for Europe”. This is the last in a series of encouraging communications and reports from the European institutions. One highlight from the Parliament’s resolution is the call for fiscal measures to encourage the renovation and preservation of cultural heritage managed by private bodies. With this recommendation in hand, the association and its members have contacted the relevant policy-makers to see this idea included in real legislation.

As a matter of fact, a strong joint position has been sent to the European Commission regarding the forthcoming debate on VAT regulation that is going to take place in 2016. We addressed a letter, together with our partner associations, to the President and the Vice-president of the EC as well as the Commissioner for fiscal issues and taxation in order to make our voice heard.

We believe this is a first step in a long process that will have to be continued within Member States themselves. Indeed, taxation and VAT rates are sensitive topics that are mostly discussed and negotiated at the national level.