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Noonan examining whether to offer tax scheme for video game sector

The review of the Section 481 scheme comes in response to British attempts to lure the gaming industry to its shores.

Image: [File photo] Katsumi Kasahara/AP

FINANCE MINISTER Michael Noonan has ordered a review into the tax relief scheme for the film and TV industry in order to examine whether it should be extended to the video game industry.

The review comes after the British government announced a tax credit for the profits of video game and animation companies in its Budget last month, in an attempt to lure both industries to the United Kingdom.

Tax relief for the indigenous film sector – known as ‘Section 481′ – was introduced in 1987, and will remain in place at least until 2015 under legislation attached to the 2011 Budget.

“The scheme makes a positive contribution to the development and sustainability of the Irish film and screen industry, which supports a significant number of jobs in the local economy and contributes to cultural tourism initiatives,” Noonan said.

In response to a parliamentary question tabled by FG backbencher Seán Kyne, Noonan said 58 projects qualified for the scheme in 2011, supporting over 15,000 jobs between cast, crew and extras.

Those productions “had the effect of maintaining and creating jobs in a very difficult climate, while at the same time producing a product that will help to sell Ireland abroad”, Noonan said.

A review of the credit, and whether it may be extended to other industries, has now been ordered and will be carried out later in the year.

“I do not intend to make any major adjustments to the scheme prior to the completion of this review,” the finance minister said.

The British Budget unveiled by George Osborne last month included corporation tax reliefs for the video games, animation and high-end TV industries from 2013, ”as part of a new ambition to make the UK the technology hub of Europe”.

Ireland is known for its strong performance in the video games industry; a Forfás report last November suggested the sector supported 2,000 direct jobs in Ireland, and 11,500 people indirectly employed by the industry.

Site: Osborne cuts corporate tax, creates credits for video game industry >

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Gavan Reilly

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