Published: Tue, January 21, 2020
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Rockstar and UKIE respond to Taxwatch UK’s £37.6 million tax relief report


It also means, as per TaxWatch's report, that Rockstar has paid no Corporation Tax for the fourth year running in the United Kingdom, despite the developer's GTAV having amassed more than an estimated $6bn Dollars in sales since releasing in 2014.

Investigative think tank Tax Watch UK has published a report of Rockstar Games' tax returns for 2018/2019, in which it's revealed that the company claimed nearly 40% of the total tax relief reserved for video game projects deemed to have cultural significance that reflect "British creativity".

In 2019 Rockstar North claimed £37.6 million under the Video Games Tax Relief scheme, which provides tax breaks to games that pass a "Cultural Test" to assess their British-ness.

A spokesman for Rockstar said the relief was a "proven success" and had "directly resulted in Rockstar significantly increasing its investment in the United Kingdom, creating well over 1,000 highly skilled jobs". Rockstar North's accounts for past year show that the company claimed £37.6 million in Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR), taking the company's total to £80 million since the programme was introduced.

"This investment and the success of British video games supported by the program not only significantly contributes to the economy, and to United Kingdom tax receipts, but also helps solidify the UK's position at the forefront of video game development well into the future", it continued.

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In order to qualify for United Kingdom tax relief, a video game must pass a number of criteria. VGTR as a whole was originally estimated to cost the United Kingdom taxpayer around £35 million a year, but that figure has now swelled to more than £100 million. "The idea that 40pc of the relief would be claimed by one company is clearly absurd".

Turner adds that a total of 1,100 claims have been under VGTR, and that Rockstar now accounts for a quarter of all relief granted, and about half the budget is now going to a total of just four companies.

The criticism originated with Tax Watch, a UK-based "investigative think tank" that monitors and reports on the taxation situations of large companies and wealthy individuals in the country.

According to TaxWatch UK, the £38 million claim from Rockstar North was the largest granted by HMRC in 2018/19, making up 37% of all claims made by the UK video games industry that year.

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