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HMRC internal manual

Television Production Company Manual

Avoidance and disclosure: exchange of information between HMRC and Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)/British Film Institute (BFI) Certification Unit

S1216CM, S1216CB-S1216CD Corporation Tax Act 2009 (CTA 2009)

Television Tax Relief (TTR) is available to a Television Production Company (TPC) only in respect of a television programme which has been certified as British by the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). This may be an interim or a final certification.

The certification takes place under the TTR regime as read with the Cultural Test (Television Programmes) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/1831). (TPC40030)

In practice, the Secretary of State certifies programmes on the advice of the BFI Certification Unit, the Government’s strategic agency for film and programme. Where a TPC does not hold a current certificate in respect of a television programme, the programme is not eligible for TTR.

An application for an interim certificate can be made whilst the programme is in production. An application for final certification can only be made once the programme has been completed.

DCMS also has the authority to revoke a certificate which has previously been given.

It is possible that HMRC could uncover information during the normal enquiry process which suggests that a television programme does not meet the criteria for being a British programme. In some cases, this might constitute evidence that a television programme had been certified as British on the basis of incorrect or inaccurate information.

However, a certificate can only be revoked by DCMS. HMRC would not be able to disregard the certificate presented by the TPC.

Instead, HMRC is authorised to provide DCMS with information relevant to programme certification. Such provision could lead to DCMS revoking the original certificate and the denial of TTR in relation to the programme. One effect of this provision, therefore, is to prevent TPCs from making claims for TTR to which they are not entitled.

HMRC has discretion about how it exercises this authority and DCMS is not able to demand information from HMRC. Any information provided by HMRC to DCMS must relate to the Secretary of State’s functions under the CTA 2009 and the Cultural Test (Television Programmes) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/1831).

DCMS are allowed to share this information with the BFI Certification Unit. However, information disclosed by HMRC in this way is subject to the same protection as if it were held exclusively by HMRC. It cannot be shared outside DCMS and the BFI Certification Unit except in certain limited circumstances described in S1216CM CTA 2009(5).

Wrongful disclosure of such information would constitute an offence and an individual committing this offence is liable to a fine or imprisonment.

If you discover information which you believe has a bearing upon a television programme which might have been certified on the basis of false or incorrect information provided to DCMS, you should contact Anti-Avoidance Group in the first instance.

Information provided by applicants to DCMS during the process of applying for a certificate may not normally be disclosed to third parties. However, DCMS may disclose information to the BFI Certification Unit and HMRC.

Any enquiries which concern the process for certification should be directed to the BFI Certification Unit. See TPC40030 for contact details.