Today is Britain's perhaps most thrilling day of the year. It's the day that the Chancellor of the Exchequer gives his Autumn Statement, the annual not-quite-the-budget about which everyone has been on tenterhooks for weeks. Will he make being unemployed entirely illegal? Will he announce that all benefits claimants must be his butler for one day of the year? Will he demand that the disabled must either stop complaining or move to Russia? Probably, I don't know - I was playing Far Cry 3 over lunchtime. But one thing he has announced is a 25% tax relief for UK games developers.
As the UK games industry's representative body TIGA rather excitedly declare (they've been campaigning for this for years), this is a simple, single 25% level of tax relief, which they say should be "simple to administer and economically impactful." This doesn't only affect games development, but also animation and "high end television production". And it will apparently also include matching funding for training and developing in the creative industries. It's almost as if the government's finally noticed that making money from making games is in their interests. Especially if it's by British companies who aren't ferreting all their profits through the Cayman Islands.
The official wording from today's budget reads:
Corporation tax reliefs for the creative sector – The Government announced at Budget 2012 that, following consultation on design, it would introduce corporation tax reliefs for the video games, animation and high-end television industries from April 2013, subject to state aids approval. Under these reliefs, qualifying companies will be able to choose between an additional deduction at a rate of 100 per cent of enhanceable expenditure or a payable tax credit at a rate of 25 per cent of qualifying losses surrendered.
TIGA's enthusiastic CEO, Dr Richard Wilson, said that these tax breaks will "contribute to a rebalancing of the UK economy away from an over-reliance on public sector employment and financial services towards highly skilled, export focused industries." However, he also warns that while this news is good, it still falls short of the 37.5% offered in Quebec, which is of course why so many publishers have their studios in Canada these days.
In other news, I have no idea what tax relief is, beyond the feeling of finally not wanting to be sick when I've sorted the annual mess out.