Avoidance and disclosure: exchange of information between HMRC and DCMS/BFI Certification Unit
S1217M, S1217CB-S1217CD Corporation Tax Act 2009 (CTA 2009)
Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) is available to a Video Games Development Company (VGDC) only in respect of a video game 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. Note that this is not the same as PEGI certification, which relates solely to the minimum player age for which the content is suitable.
The certification takes place under the VGTR regime as read with the Cultural Test (Programmes and Video Games) Regulations. (VGDC40030)
In practice, the Secretary of State certifies video games on the advice of the BFI Certification Unit, the Government’s strategic agency for film, video games and video games. Where a VGDC does not hold a current certificate in respect of a video game, the video game is not eligible for VGTR.
An application for an interim certificate can be made whilst the video game is in development. An application for final certification can only be made once the video game 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 video game does not meet the criteria for being a British video game. In some cases, this might constitute evidence that a video game 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 VGDC.
Instead, HMRC is authorised to provide DCMS with information relevant to video game certification. Such provision could lead to DCMS revoking the original certificate and the denial of VGTR in relation to the video game. One effect of this provision, therefore, is to prevent VGDCs from making claims for VGTR 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 (Programmes and Video Games) Regulations.
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 S1217CM 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 video game which might have been certified on the basis of false or incorrect information provided to DCMS, you should contact Head Office 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 VGDC40030 for contact details.