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As the San Sebastian International Film Festival got underway Friday, the Spanish government confirmed plans to lower the sales tax on movie admissions from the country’s record-breaking 21 percent to 10 percent, answering the film industry’s dire request for the past six years.
“I believe we are inaugurating the San Sebastian Festival tonight,” said culture minister Inigo Mendez de Vigo, who announced the measure following Friday morning’s cabinet meeting. “So I hope they’ll say something nice to me this year in San Sebastian.”
The move, which is set to be approved when the 2018 General Budget clears parliament later this year, proved a festive way to launch Spain’s premiere film event, with the culture minister smiling and relaxed on the red carpet.
The Spanish film industry had energetically protested the 21 percent movie-ticket tax — the highest in Europe — as unjustified and a nail in the coffin for an industry that had weathered a severe financial crisis in 2008 and one of the world’s healthiest piracy landscapes, which together decimated sales.
The film industry was the only culture sector whose admissions had not received a reduced tax, prompting accusations of unfair treatment.
Government sources estimate the government will lose some $7.17 million per year with the reduced rate, while ticket prices should drop $0.72.
The issue of the inflated rate has been a battle cry for most of the center-right government’s critics since it was implemented in 2012. The Spanish government maintains it inherited near-bankrupt finances from the previous government and had to find ways to raise funds.
The San Sebastian Film Festival kicked off Friday and runs through Sept. 30.
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