Australian gov't plans new tax rebate

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SYDNEY -- Expectations of major structural reform of the tax and funding mechanisms to the Australian production sector were boosted over the weekend on reports that the government will announce a new tax rebate play for domestic and offshore production in its annual budget May 8.

Industry expectations have run high for the past six months that a major overhaul of the current taxation incentives scheme, including scrapping the current 10BA tax incentive, is in the cards. This follows 18 months of industry lobbying, as part of an extensive review process conducted by the federal government, into its assistance for the sector.

Local newspapers say the government will provide a 40% tax rebate on production costs for domestic films and increase the tax offset for foreign films produced in Australia from 12.5% to 15%, while industry sources say the government also will merge several funding and development agencies, including the Film Finance Corp., and the Australian Film Commission into one "super" agency.

SPAA president Trish Lake said in an interview this year that, if carried through, the reforms will kick-start an effective doubling of production investment for Australian film and television. Other reports suggest the government assistance through the new structure will increase to about AUS$250 million ($207 million) a year.

A spokesman for Arts Minster, Sen. George Brandis would not comment on the speculation, though Brandis, in the portfolio for just three months, did says at an industry function last week that he would be an "energetic advocate" for the industry.

Further boosting speculation of a positive outcome for the sector was the release Monday of the program for the Screen Producers Association of Australia annual conference in November, in which it said that several sessions would be devoted to discussion on "revenue streams, partners and the financial models that will flow from a new tax offset rebate scheme for domestic production."
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