May 23, 2022

Rockstar North’s Tax Relief Claim is a Doozy. Does it Reveal Impending GTA 6 Release?

Grand Theft Auto V developers Rockstar’s tax relief claim reportedly doubled between 2018 and 2019. As noted by TaxWatch UK, Rockstar’s relief accounted for 37% of all the money paid out by HMRC.

In other words, Rockstar claimed over a third for the whole of the UK video games industry alone. This equated to some £37.6 million.

During the same period the year prior, Rockstar claimed £19 million under the same scheme or around 18%. The company has claimed over £80 million in tax relief since the scheme’s inception.

The scheme provides tax breaks to companies that pass specific “cultural tests” assessing how “British” the company claiming is. To pass the test, a game is required to score 16 out of a possible 31 points.

These points are awarded based on “British” or EEA content which can include setting, lead characters, and subject matter.

Rockstar Making Bare Dolla!

However, as UKIE notes, “this is a relatively low threshold and means that many games can pass”. The Video Game Tax Relief is funded by the taxpayer. Whilst initial estimates put the cost at around £35 million/year, the actual figure is in excess of £100 million.

TaxWatch’s report also notes that Rockstar has paid no Corporation Tax for the fourth year running in the UK. This is despite having generated an estimated $6 billion in sales since 2014.

Before you get your pitchforks out and march on Rockstar’s Edinburgh home, Rockstar has responded to TaxWatch’s story. Speaking to VG247, Rockstar said how the tax reliefs have helped enable them to;

“…significantly increase investment in the UK, creating over 1000 highly-skilled and long-term jobs across London, Lincoln, Yorkshire, and Scotland.

This investment and the success of British video games … not only significantly contributes to the economy…but also helps solidify the UK’s position at the forefront of video game development well into the future”.

It isn’t just Rockstar that has benefitted from the scheme. Sony, SEGA, and WarnerMedia have all staked a claim of the scheme. In total, more than 1,100 claims have been made by UK video game companies.

HMRC’s VGTR Helps Out Many British Developers

The UKIE has defended the large sum of money that the VGTR offers.

“We know that VGTR delivers a great return on investment for the taxpayer. For every £1 invested into the games industry via VGTR, it pays back £4 in gross value added back into the economy.

Even more importantly, VGTR directly supports 4,320 high productivity full-time jobs in game development roles – nearly a third of our entire development workforce – across the country. This helps businesses based everywhere from Dundee to Brighton to play on the global stage while allowing local communities to benefit from great jobs fit for a digital age”.

On To Grand Theft Auto 6?

With such a huge amount of money gained by Rockstar, this could signify a new game is on the horizon. The long-rumoured Grand Theft Auto 6 has been making the rounds recently. As work starts up on the new project, costs will likely rise up as well.

As reported by Gamesradar, a “trusted Rockstar insider” claimed that Take-Two Interactive – Rockstar’s publisher – has been pushing the developers for a much faster and more frequent release schedule.

Whether this would mean a 2020 release date or, more likely, a 2021 release is unknown as of time of writing. However, both dates link up with something Steven Ogg (aka GTA V‘s Trevor Phillips) reportedly said last year.

Whether Ogg was blowing smoke or has something to do with production is, as yet, unknown. Rockstar famously likes to keep release information secretive until much closer to launch date.

Either way, chances are we’ll be getting a next-gen ready Grand Theft Auto 6 in time for the release of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Though, if an incredibly dubious posting from Austrian retailer Gameware teased if anything to go by, GTA 6 might just have a 2020 release.

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Something tells me not to count on that one too much.

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