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Theatre tax relief claims must be accelerated to protect small venues

Martin Moate, manager, media & entertainment at MHA MacIntyre Hudson, says the government’s increase to the theatre tax relief rate, from 20% to 50%, will be too little too late for many smaller venues

“Increasing theatre tax relief makes a great headline, but for many small venues it’s likely to be academic. Without more immediate support they will already be out of business once the furlough scheme ends. Having to wait until after the annual report and accounts have been signed off to make a relief claim will be too late.

“We urge the government to make the process faster and simpler. Unless companies can afford to set up a separate corporate vehicle for each production, many could wait up to two years before they can receive any hard cash. A more immediate online claims facility, similar to gift aid and processed straight after a production, could make all the difference to the survival of small theatres.

“Another option would be to allow companies to claim a proportion of the relief now, then receive the balance after they finalise their accounts and submit their tax return. Whichever route is taken, the government must do more to enable these companies to survive, retain staff and invest in their next production.”

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