Call for Government to extend tax break to TV production companies

Ireland could lose out to Britain on future large-scale productions such as The Tudors and Camelot if British chancellor George Osborne goes ahead with plans to offer a new tax incentive to television film-makers.

Kevin Moriarty, managing director of Ardmore Studios in Bray, Co Wicklow, has called on the Government to extend Ireland’s tax break to television production companies until 2020 to allow Ireland stay competitive in attracting big productions.

Mr Moriarty was speaking in relation to British government plans to unveil a ‘Downton Abbey tax break’ in its upcoming budget.

The Financial Times reported that the details of the planned tax break emerged during a dinner at the White House between British prime minister David Cameron, Mr Osborne and US President Barack Obama. Among the guests were Downton Abbey stars Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern.

The Downton Abbey tax break is specifically designed to stop large-scale dramas moving to offshore locations such as Ireland.

Mr Moriarty said: “There is no question that the natural home of The Tudors or Camelot would be the UK. They were productions from the US. Ireland got them because of the tax breaks.”

Mr Moriarty said the tax break, which will extend existing film tax relief to television productions, will level the playing field between Ireland and the UK.

“We won’t have that edge anymore as the UK will have its own tax incentives. The only advantage we now have is that we have a good track record. Hopefully, we can compete on the basis that we can do it as well as anyone else, but if there was a financial incentive it would be easier to sell,” he said.

Mr Moriarty said Jimmy Deenihan, the arts minister, had indicated he was in favour of extending the current tax incentives that are available in Ireland beyond their 2015 deadline.

The existing tax incentives have resulted in a net return to the exchequer by bringing in foreign investment and employment for a huge number of people in television production, said Mr Moriarty.

“The minister has indicated that he would like to extend the section 481 tax break until 2020. That would give certainty, and producers would be more comfortable locating here,” he said.

“We’d like to see further incentives offered, but the most important thing for the moment is to get the current ones extended,” he added.

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