IBEC: film tax breaks ‘vital’

The film industry was worth €21.2 million to the Exchequer last year, according to new figures.

IBEC’s Audiovisual Federation says this year is set to be the most successful ever for the film business and it is calling on the Government to retain the Section 481 tax breaks.

The Audiovisual Federation said yesterday that Section 481 should be retained as the film production business is a vital contributor to the Irish economy. The tax break is set to go by the end of 2004.

It said that the Irish film industry contributed €122 million to the economy in goods and services in 2002 and it estimated that the industry will spend 160 million in goods and services in 2003, its 2003 review said.

“In 2003, the Irish audiovisual industry is set to have its most successful year. A decade has passed since three initiatives combined to make Ireland a competitive location for screen production.

"The reconstruction of the film board, the establishment of the RTÉ Independent Production Unit and the extension of Section 35 (currently Section 481) film investment incentive all took place in 1992.

"The development of the industry will continue this year with €304 million worth of production based in Ireland,” the report said.

John Cummins, chairman of the Audiovisual Federation, said the retention of Section 481 is vital for the industry to continue.

“The proposed removal of Section 481 tax relief will greatly undermine our competitive position in relation to other countries.”

He said Britain has three separate production-based tax incentives.

According to IBEC figures, the 2002 spend is down on the previous year as the number of blockbusters made here dropped. There, was, however, an increase in the number of indigenous productions.

IBEC said around 16,000 people are employed in the film industry, but there are forecasts that up to 1,000 jobs could be lost when Section 481 goes next year.

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