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Film tax relief (FTR) and high-end television tax relief

Quick facts

Film tax relief (FTR) and high-end television tax relief are part of the UK government’s eight tax incentives for the creative industries, designed to help production companies make films, TV shows or video games for UK consumption.

All film and television production companies that qualify for tax relief can claim a tax credit (rebate) of up to 25% of qualifying expenditure incurred in the UK. Qualifying expenditure is defined as what you spend on pre-production, principal photography, visual effects and post-production in the UK.

The amount of tax relief that your company is awarded is capped at 80% of your qualifying expenditure. There is no budget limit.

Whether you’re operating as an independent or you’re in a co-production, you must pass the British Film Institute’s Cultural Test for film and high-end television. The BFI runs this test on behalf of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. It’s points-based, with sections relating to content, cultural contribution, location, and cast and crew.

If the BFI agrees that you’re a qualifying business, you’ll walk away with a certificate that verifies your eligibility – this is what you submit to HMRC in order to claim your tax relief. If you’re still in production, the BFI will give you an interim certificate, which you can use to claim interim relief. You must however replace this with a final certificate otherwise HMRC might ask you to pay back any interim tax relief you’ve received.

When applying for film or high-end television tax relief, your production company must be able to prove that:

  • the film is intended for theatrical (i.e. cinema) release, or the high-end TV programme (or series) is intended for broadcast (including internet)
  • at least 10% of the total costs of production are spent on UK qualifying production expenditure. This means that at least 10% of costs must be spent on filming activities (pre-production, principal photography, visual effects and post-production) within the UK (irrespective of nationalities). This is known as the minimum UK spend requirement.

You might also be eligible for creative industry tax reliefs if you work in:

  • children’s television
  • animation television
  • video games
  • theatrical productions
  • orchestral concerts
  • museum or gallery exhibitions

You can find more information on the HMRC website under creative industry tax reliefs.

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