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Theatre companies slow to claim tax relief – survey

Julian Bird, chief executive of SOLT Julian Bird, chief executive of SOLT
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Theatre companies are being slow to reap the benefits of a tax relief scheme for the sector, a survey has revealed.

The survey found that, of the 130 companies that took part, just 50 had made a claim for tax relief under the new system since it became available in 2014.

Overall, there were more than 60 successful applications for the relief, which takes into account companies that made more than one.

The survey was carried out by UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre, and was aimed at finding out how many companies had made use of the relief and on how many productions.

Chief executive of SOLT, Julian Bird, said the initial findings were “promising” but more needed to be done to make companies aware of the benefits of the scheme. He said it showed “very clearly” that “many more theatres and companies could be benefiting from the theatre tax relief”.

“SOLT and UK Theatre want to offer more support to the industry to bring more money in through the theatre tax relief. We’ll share this valuable data with HMRC and we’ll run further seminars across the UK to help people understand how to access it,” he said.

The survey found that around 75% of applicants described themselves as not-for-profit organisations, with 25% from the commercial sector.

The tax relief measures mean touring theatre shows are eligible to claim 25% tax relief on qualifying production costs, while other professional productions can claim back 20%.

The survey showed that majority of claims were for solo productions, and for tax relief of 20%. Just over a third of the claims were for the higher rate of 25% on touring productions.

When asked what the scheme had enabled them to do that they would not otherwise have been able to, theatre companies said the relief had enabled them to “be more adventurous, to undertake audience development work, to employ more people, and simply to offset reductions in their funding from other sources”.

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