Business Irish

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Film Board chair supports higher cap on tax incentive

Annie Doona, acting chair of the Irish Film Board
Annie Doona, acting chair of the Irish Film Board

Paul O'Donoghue

The acting chairwoman of the Irish Film Board has said that the cap on a tax incentive, which provides relief for movie productions filmed in Ireland, should be revised upwards.

The Section 481 credit allows film and television production companies to claim a tax credit of up to 32pc of their spend that relates to work carried out in Ireland.

The credit could be claimed on expenditure up to a cap of €50m per project. This cap was revised upwards to €70m in Budget 2016. The scheme was also extended so that it applies to non-EU personnel.

Despite the increase, however, there have been calls to raise the cap further to attract larger productions to Ireland.

When asked at the Irish Film Board's 2016 programme launch earlier this week if she would like to see the tax credit reviewed in future budgets, IFB acting chair Annie Doona said: "I'd like to see it changed, but whether it [the cap on eligible expenditure] is removed or not, I'm not sure. [However], increased, yes."

She declined to comment when asked what level of an increase she would support.

The cap was raised to ensure that Ireland remains attractive for film investment, compared to the UK, where film production companies can claim a payable cash rebate of up to 25pc on the first £20m of qualifying UK expenditure and a flat rate of 20pc thereafter.

Under changes introduced for 2015, only companies set up for a specific production qualified for the relief, rather than individual investors.

Only 19 budgets with a combined budget of €64m were certified under section 481 in the first half of 2015, compared to 66 projects with a total budget of €433m in the full year of 2014.

Meanwhile, Telegael's Norm of the North, which has an estimated budget of about $18m, is set to open in 2,500 cinemas in the US this weekend.

The animated comedy stars comedian Rob Schneider, who voices the titular Norm, a polar bear who goes to New York in an attempt to save his Arctic homeland from a developer, who wants to populate the North Pole with luxury condos.

Telegael, which employs about 170 people at its Galway base, co-produced and co-financed the movie.

Chief executive Paul Cummins said the film received tax relief under the Section 481 credit.

"People don't realise that a film of this scale was produced in Ireland, it is one of the country's best-kept secrets," he said.

Norm of the North is set to be released in Ireland and the UK on March 18.

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