Studios can claim Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) for unfinished games. But there’s one significant difference in the claim process that you need to know about.
One of the more common questions my clients ask me is ‘can I claim Video Games Tax Relief even though my game isn’t finished yet?’
The good news is that, yes, you can claim VGTR on unfinished games.
Doing this – applying for VGTR ‘early’, so to speak – is an excellent, tax-efficient way for studios to secure extra funding for game development.
However, there is one significant difference between claiming VGTR for an incomplete project and claiming for the finished article that you need to be aware of.
The interim certificate
When you claim Video Games Tax Relief you need to have your game ‘certified as British’ by taking the BFI’s Cultural Test.
There are two kinds of cultural certification: final and interim.
If you’re claiming VGTR on a finished game, you need to apply for the final certificate. If your game is unfinished, you’ll apply for the interim version.
Thankfully, the application process for both certificates is more or less the same. As is the evidence you need to submit to pass the test.
The interim certificate is valid for three years, meaning you can recoup many of your development costs back if your game is a while in development.
You can also apply for another interim certificate if your game takes longer than three years to complete.
Receiving the interim certificate allows you to acquire government funding much earlier in the development process. A timely cash injection can help you finish off your game or begin entirely new projects which might attract additional tax relief further down the line.
But if you do claim an interim certificate, and then go on to finish your game, there is one last step in the process you need to complete.
Applying for the final certificate
If your studio receives an interim certificate, you have to apply for a final certificate once your game is finished.
You will also have to retake the cultural test, submitting a copy of your finished game and an accountant’s report to the Secretary of State if you’re hoping to score points in sections C and D of the cultural test.
But as you already passed the cultural test when you picked up your interim certificate, taking the test a second time should be reasonably straightforward.
In fact, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, which created the VGTR scheme, says that the interim certificate “offers the applicant comfort that the video game should pass the Cultural Test, based on the information provided”.
If you never finish your game, you don’t need to worry about the final certificate. And you can still keep the Video Game Tax Relief you’ve already claimed.
Hopefully, I’ve answered your most pressing questions about claiming VGTR for an unfinished game.
If there are still things you don’t understand, or if you want some extra help on your VGTR claim, just drop us a message.
Our VGTR experts would be happy to assist you!