Tax watchdog group TaxWatch UK says Rockstar received £37.6 million in tax relief as part of a tax incentive scheme created to support sall game developers in England.
The thinktank has been monitoring Rockstar’s published taxes, and highlights that during 2018/2019 the game publisher claimed the largest claim for relief ever made – accounting for 37% of total tax relief claims across England’s games industry. According to their report, Taxwatch UK claims Rockstar has been granted £80 million under the program and has not paid corporate tax in four years.
“It can’t have been the intention of the government in setting up the scheme to spend vast amounts of the VGTR budget on one, vastly profitable company,” said George Turner, director of TaxWatch UK. “The evidence is now clear that there is an urgent case for reforming VGTR.”
“The claim relates to the production of the next edition of GTA, rumoured to be scheduled for release soon,” the report continues. “This is clear because the company has not registered any other games as being ‘Culturally British’, the pre-requisite required to qualify for the relief, since GTA V. Studios are able to make interim claims for VGTR before a game is completed, and the huge claims being put in by Rockstar are likely related to the production costs of GTA VI. As VGTR is related to production spend, the large claim indicates the scale of Rockstar’s next release, which is likely to cost far more than the $137m spent on GTA V.”
Last year the Grand Theft Auto 5 developer found itself under fire for issuing claims worth more than £42 million from the Video Game Tax Relief Fund between 2015 and 2017. At the time Rockstar only boasted “slender profits” in its accounts for tax relief, resulting in TaxWatch calling on the HMRC to investigate.