|Guidance Note for Film Producers and Promoters on
The certification of qualifying films
Under “Section 481” – Tax relief incentive
For investment in film
This Note does not have the force of law and does not affect any person’s right of appeal. Nor is it, in all instances, a full statement of the law as it applies, or has applied, to Section 481 investment schemes. Film Producers and Promoters should refer to the law as appropriate. Unless stated to the contrary, all statutory references are to the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, as amended.
Section 481 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides tax relief for investments in qualifying films. A qualifying film is a film for which the Revenue Commissioners have issued a Certificate under Section 481. Further provisions are included in Regulations made by the Revenue Commissioners, with the consent of the Ministers for Finance and Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on 12/09/2008.
The purpose of this Guidance Note is to outline how to apply for a Certificate, the information required, and the evaluation criteria to be applied.
A Certificate is issued by the Revenue Commissioners but both the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Revenue Commissioners have specific responsibilities in relation to the certification process. These are outlined at Sections 3 and 4 respectively below.
The Minister has responsibility to ensure that it is appropriate for the Revenue Commissioners to consider the issue of a Certificate for a film, having regard to -
The categories of film eligible for certification and
The contribution a film will make to either or both the development of the film industry in the State and the promotion and expression of Irish culture.
The Revenue Commissioners have responsibility to ensure that all other aspects of the project, including the financial aspects, have the potential to satisfy the requirements of the law. The Revenue Commissioners will not issue a Certificate unless they have received an authorisation from the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and they are satisfied with the other aspects of the proposal. Notwithstanding the dual roles, there is a simplified application procedure so that the producer/promoter has to deal with only one body.
The Application Form (attached) incorporates both the requirements of the Minister and the Revenue Commissioners. Consequently, application need be made only to the Revenue Commissioners. The Revenue Commissioners will consult with the Minister as required.
A Certificate is issued on the basis of the information supplied during the application process. Any material change in the information supplied that may arise as the project progresses must be notified to and agreed by the Revenue Commissioners. If the information on which the Certificate is based is not correct, is misleading or incomplete, or the Revenue Commissioners are not notified of material changes, the Certificate may be revoked.
Each Certificate contains an expiry date and Certificates not used by the expiry date should be returned to the Revenue Commissioners. The amount raised under S481 TCA 1997 must be used by the qualifying company within 2 years of receipt of that sum.
If the Revenue Commissioners refuse to issue a certificate the applicant has a right of appeal to the Appeal Commissioners and to the Courts.
The Application Process
An application for a Certificate must be made in writing, in the form prescribed by the Revenue Commissioners, and contain such information as may be prescribed in Regulations made under Section 481 (2E). These requirements are incorporated in the Application Form and supporting documentation, as listed at Appendix C of the Application Form.
An application for a certificate under section 481 of the Act shall be submitted to the Revenue Commissioners at least 21 days prior to the earlier of -
(a) the commencement of the raising of relevant investments, or
(b) the commencement of the principal photography, the first animation drawings or the first model movement, as the case may be.
It may be the case that not all agreements will have been signed at the time the application is being made. In the absence of completed documentation the application for certification should include a full explanation of the scheme. In particular, Revenue will require -
A diagram showing all the players, their responsibilities and the flow of funds between them;
An outline of the various agreements proposed, the parties involved and purpose of the agreement;
Letters of intent in relation to the non-Section 481 funds; and
Any issues that might impact on the conditions for Section 481 relief.
Where a completion bond is not available, at the time of application, Revenue would be satisfied with an outline view of arrangements. When a signed, dated and witnessed copy of the completion bond becomes available, it should, as with other finalised agreements, be forwarded to Revenue. Any deviation from information previously submitted should be noted and explained. (See paragraph 4.7.2 below for further information about completion bonds).
The Certificate will be based on the information submitted and on the understanding that the proposals will not contravene any of the conditions for relief. This puts a certain onus on the producers and it would be wise for them to consult with Revenue about any unusual aspects as the various agreements are being finalised.
The applicant must be a qualifying Company i.e. a company which:
is incorporated and resident in the State,
is carrying on a trade in the State through a branch or agency; and
exists solely for the purposes of the production and distribution of only one qualifying film; and
does not contain in its name the words “Ireland”, “Irish”, “Éireann”, “Éire” or “National”, where the company name in question is either -
registered under either or both the Companies Acts, 1963 to 1999, and the Registration of Business Names Act, 1963,
registered under the law of the territory in which it is incorporated.
The Revenue Commissioners, following consultation with the Minister, will issue a notice in writing to the applicant company within 7 days of the receipt of a properly completed application form and required supporting documentation. Receipt of this notice is necessary before:
Principal photography, first animation drawings or first model movement (as the case may be) commences. A Certificate will not be issued if such activities commence before an application for the Certificate is made.
An investment qualifying for tax relief under Section 481 is made (otherwise the investment will not qualify for relief)
The issue of such a notice in writing by the Revenue Commissioners is no guarantee that a Certificate will subsequently issue or that questions will not arise when the application is processed.
The application form should be addressed to:
Office of the Revenue Commissioners
Corporate Business & International,
Incentives & Financial Services 1