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TV Tax Credit System Gets Go-Ahead From Euro Authorities

The Associated Press, Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 10:27am (PDT)

The Hollywood Reporter -- LONDON – The proposed tax credit system for high end TV, animation and video games has leapt through the final hoops standing its way and will be in place from April 1, 2013.

The introduction is designed to help keep the U.K. on the map with Hollywood studios and high end producers looking to make big budget TV projects -- likely to be budgeted at $1.5 million plus per episode.

The proposals for the credits had to secure state-aid approval by Brussels before the British government could start implementing the long-awaited tax benefits to applicants.

The go-ahead from Brussels on the eve of this year's Mip TV market in Cannes, should give producers and program-makers a welcome boost ahead of the show that runs April 8 - 11.

The tax benefits, which have been in the works for about a year and have been supported by industry groups and personalities, will provide a 25 percent tax break on qualifying U.K. expenditures.

Budget documents indicate that the British government expects to allocate $7 million (£5 million) to its tax credit system for high end television productions from April 6, 2013, for the rest of the year.

That will likely grow, according to government forecasts, to $38 million (£25 million) for 2014 /15, rising to $98 million (£65 million) by 2017/18.

Stephen Bristow, at leading media tax and accountancy specialists Saffery Champness, described the greenlight from the European Commission for the tax credits, as "great news."

Bristow, whose firm has been instrumental in drawing up the framework and lobbying the government bean counters to implement the system, said it will boost the sector in two ways.

"In real terms the UK is now going to be able attract more high-end TV production and animation building businesses and employment," Bristow said.

The tax credits for high end TV is already tipped by British industry insiders to attract more and more U.S. productions with British elements to U.K. shores.

It will also avoid recent "runaway" productions that has seen high end projects produced by British production banners and U.S. partners such as Parade's End, starring Benedict Cumberbath and Rebecca Hall from BBC Worldwide and HBO from shooting abroad.

Said Bristow: "The new tax reliefs will be in place from April 1, 2013, giving production companies just about to start production the confidence to do so, knowing that they are going to be able to apply for the TV or animation tax relief providing their productions meet the qualifying criteria."

The British Film Institute has been tasked by the British government to be the certification body for the incoming tax credit system.

Related article on THR.com:

U.K. Tax Incentives for High-End TV Projects Delight Industry

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Find more online: THR.com

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