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Switching between film and TV reliefs

Film tax relief (FTR) can increase the amount of expenditure that is allowable as a deduction for tax purposes or, if a company makes a loss, can be surrendered for a payable tax credit. To qualify for relief, films must be intended to be shown commercially in cinemas and at least 10% of the core costs must relate to activities in the UK. In addition, the film must be certified as British, either by passing a cultural test or under an agreed co-production treaty. The FTR allows qualifying companies to claim a payable cash rebate of up to 25% on UK qualifying expenditure.

One issue that has arisen since the FTR was first introduced, and accelerated during the pandemic, is the fact that more films are released directly to video on-demand services. This creates an issue for claiming FTR as one of the conditions is that the film must be intended for release to the public in cinemas. It is also not currently possible to retroactively qualify for high-end TV tax relief (HETV) because that would only be possible at the outset of filming.

The government is now proposing to allow claimants to continue claiming FTR even if the film is not released in cinemas but would otherwise qualify for the HETV. The new measure is expected to come into force from 1 April 2022.

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