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HMRC internal manual

Television Production Company Manual

Eligible expenditure: attributing costs across the stages of television production

The rules for Television Tax Relief (TTR) describe the stages of production that are typical for a generic television production. For television programmes, it is anticipated that attributing costs to a specific stage may prove difficult.

Television programmes do not always take place in a strict sequential manner. Many items of expenditure will be attributable in varying degrees to several stages.

For example:

  • the screenplay will normally be written during development and is required throughout the production process. It may be reworked throughout this process, but it will be required from development through to post-production;
  • a production designer might be engaged as part of development, pre-production or principal photography;
  • an actor will typically be involved during principal photography, but may be involved in post-production also (e.g. if lines need to be re-voiced because there is a problem with the vocal soundtrack). They will be required for rehearsals during pre-production.

It would be reasonable to consider that all these examples contribute to more than one stage of programme production.

It is firstly important to identify which stage of production a given item of expenditure contributes to. It is then necessary to determine how much expenditure is attributable to that stage.

This two-step process is most important when determining what is development and what is a later stage of production. Development is not core expenditure so does not qualify for TTR.

It is therefore most important to identify costs that are development and then quantify them.

How costs are attributed between stages of development must be done on a fair and reasonable basis (TPC50110)