Royal Opera House boss calls for tax breaks for philanthropists

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Reforms could encourage people to give, suggests Tony Hall

The chief executive of the Royal Opera House has called for reform of the tax rules surrounding philanthropic giving.

In an interview with The Independent, Hall, who is also the chairman of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, said: ‘Fundamentally we have got to look at changes in tax arrangements to help people to see the advantage of giving. I am completely behind anything that helps fundraising become easy. It will only work fundamentally if the Treasury is on board.’

Hall was responding to Jeremy Hunt’s announcement last week of an £80m package to boost philanthropic giving to the arts. Hall said the cash was a start but there was a lot more to do. ‘We need to encourage people to give over two or three years. To know you have funding coming in from someone means you can plan ahead.’

Hall also called for a review of the legacy system and floated the idea of benefits for a donor during their lifetime if they intend to leave money to an institution after their death.

‘I rather like the North American scheme whereby there is a legacy and it is legally binding and there are benefits from that in your own lifetime,’ he says. ‘We should look at the benefits people get from giving which are quite circumscribed at the moment in tax terms and see whether that can be improved.’

Hall also used the interview to defend his £390,000 a year salary and vowed to try to keep ticket prices down in the prestigious London opera house.

Elizabeth Davis