GTA 6 Seemingly Outed in Rockstar Games Tax Return

Ruben Fields
January 20, 2020

A British think tank has revealed in a new study that Rockstar Games has apparently ducked taxes in the United Kingdom and received millions of pounds in subsidies - the latter by claiming at least one of its games, Grand Theft Auto V, to be a British game. It claims that, through offshoring of profits, Rockstar North (the primary development studio of GTA V) has not paid any United Kingdom taxes in ten years.

Original story: The think tank has been monitoring Rockstar's published taxes, and highlights that during 2018/2019 the game publisher claimed the largest claim for relief ever made - accounting for 37% of total tax relief claims across England's games industry.

When we spoke with United Kingdom videogame trade body UKIE about Rockstar and VGTR past year, CEO Jo Twist said the VGTR is considered a successful program, and that it's driving growth in the United Kingdom games development sector. According to Tax Watch, this particular tax break was meant to be used by smaller, less flush developers making games that could be considered "culturally British". Out of the 1,110 claims made since the VGTR scheme was introduced, Rockstar has accounted for a quarter of all of those claims with just two of its games.

"Video Game Tax Relief (VGTR) is a forward thinking policy that shows the United Kingdom understands the significance of games as a leading creative industry". Rockstar North's filing is worth more than all of the 315 claims combined.

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TaxWatch UK says the VGTR's annual budget is now about £100 million.

"A spokesperson from Rockstar told the Sunday Times that the relief was a "proven success" and "directly resulted in Rockstar significantly increasing its investment in the United Kingdom, creating well over 1,000 highly skilled jobs".

As described by TaxWatch UK and reported on by Gamesradar, the studio has filed for a significant increase in its claims for Video Games Tax Relief, approved on the basis that what it is working on is "Culturally British". To put that into context, GTA V cost Rockstar games $137 million to make, and GTA 6 is said to potentially "cost far more".

The think tank therefore surmises that Rockstar's £37.6 million tax relief claim "relates to the production of the next edition of GTA, rumoured to be scheduled for release soon".

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