Mick Downs

Consultant, London

Mick Downs

Mick is a consultant, providing specialist advice on tax and national heritage property.

Mick joined Saffery in January 2013, having retired from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in 2012. At HMRC, for almost 20 years Mick was the technical specialist with responsibility for Inheritance Tax reliefs for national heritage property. Latterly at HMRC, and in consultation with professional advisers and other relevant bodies, he produced HMRC’s guidance Capital Taxation and the National Heritage.

Mick has had considerable contact with advisory bodies such as Arts Council England, Historic England (as it now is) and Natural England, and their counterparts in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. He also, especially in the wake of some substantial changes in 1998, was in direct contact with numerous owners of works of art and landed estates, as well as having extensive dealings with professional advisers and bodies such as Historic Houses and the Heritage Group of Professional Advisers.

At Saffery Mick has assisted numerous clients who own heritage land, buildings, works of art etc, and wish to benefit from capital tax reliefs. This includes providing advice in their dealings with HMRC and more generally, by contributing to expert witness statements for use in court. Also in the context of capital taxation of national heritage items he provides advice and guidance to Historic Houses, contributes to the Heritage Group’s discussions, and maintains contact with the Arts Council.

Key experience

Mick’s work, which hitherto has been for HMRC, will be to provide guidance and advice on:

  • Conditional exemption of works of art and other national heritage property from inheritance tax (IHT),
  • Reviewing the operation of a tax exemption once it has been agreed,
  • The consequences of ending the tax exemption, eg on sale or other disposal, of the exempt property or the death of its owner,
  • The tax-free disposal of the exempt property by gift or private treaty sale to a national institution,
  • Offering property, including exempt property, to HMRC in payment of IHT, and preparing the ground for doing so in good time before the IHT charge arises,
  • Maintenance funds for national heritage property.


Mick is married with a daughter, son and two grandsons. He is keen on most ball sports, following the fortunes of Manchester United, especially, and Wakefield Trinity, as well as cricket, rugby union and tennis. He also enjoys reading and occasional forays to museums, galleries, historic houses and the theatre, and an enforced relationship with DIY. He and his wife enjoy travelling and catching up with their family and home in West Cork.