Home Gaming Rockstar Games is under fire for claiming £42 million in tax relief for the “culturally British” Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar Games is under fire for claiming £42 million in tax relief for the “culturally British” Grand Theft Auto V

3 min read
24
American-IT-Crowd

Taxes: They’re life’s greatest certainty next to death and me belting out that bangin’ ending theme from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans whenever I hear anyone mention giant robots. The lubrication of society, taxes are in theory designed to be the currency that keeps a country running and funded so that politicians have something to pilfer from.

It’s a complicated world of bureaucracy and red tape, as some taxes lean heavier than others while some fields of work are exempt from paying such fees because they don’t make enough cash to be realistically squeezed out of their hard-earned pennies by government. The overall idea though, is that everyone pays their fair share and contributes to the greater whole that uplifts the less fortunate.

This being Earth-1, the worst reality, that idea may be noble but in practice finds itself open to exploitation as Rockstar Games has come under fire for ducking its tax bill. That’s the claim thrown at the company behind games such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Grand Theft Auto V’s massively popular online mode, because while Rockstar Games may have made a cool $5 billion operating profit between 2013 to 2019, it paid absolutely zero corporation tax:

Here’s the thing: Is it right to be miffed with Rockstar for using what must have been some truly impressive leaps through hoops to avoid paying any tax, or should the finger of blame be pointed at a tax system that allows for such dodging? Probably both, but what’s utterly obscene on Rockstar’s part is how the company managed to siphon away £42 million from the Video Game Tax Relief Fund between 2015 and 2017.

Originally established to aid video games that wouldn’t find massive success if they could pass a cultural test administered by the British Film Institute, the idea of Rockstar claiming for those funds after Grand Theft Auto V became the most profitable video game in existence is staggeringly ballsy, to say the least.

“It is outrageous that the UK taxpayer is being asked to shell out tens of millions of pounds in subsidies to the developers of Grand Theft Auto, when at the time that the game’s developers put in their tax credit application, Grand Theft Auto V had already generated several billion dollars in sales and profits,” Tax Watch Director George Turner said to Gamesindustry.biz.

This is a drive-by assault on the British taxpayer and corporate welfare scrounging at its very worst. The Video Games Tax Relief was designed to help developers of games with a cultural content that would struggle to sell in the international market. The fact that such a large amount of that relief is going to the developers of Grand Theft Auto clearly shows that the relief is not working as intended.

Take-Two appears to believe that it is reasonable that close to 100% of the profit should flow to their US-based parent companies and senior management, whilst almost no profit flows back to the UK companies involved in either making or selling the game.

Looking beyond the obvious outrage clicks, it’s a complicated matter to delve into. Tax law is a bureaucratic beast, but maybe the key takeaway here is that a company that boasts about record profits every year while still forcing its staff to work under brutal crunch conditions to push out a new game, shouldn’t be receiving tax relief when said funds are designed to help the industry grow and flourish creatively.

Last Updated: July 30, 2019

24 Comments

  1. Everyone being critical; be honest.

    If your tax guy/girl comes to you and say. Hey I can LEGALLY organise it that you do not pay any income tax. Would you HONESTLY say ‘Nah the government deserve that third of income’

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief Umbra

      July 30, 2019 at 09:37

      OUR government does not deserve it because the majority of the tax income is squandered, stolen, pilfered, misappropriated, or just plain spent on bull crap

      Reply

      • HvR

        July 30, 2019 at 09:43

        I can count governments that deserve HALF my that salary one hand. Hell 5 fingers are probably too much.

        Reply

    • For the Emperor!

      July 30, 2019 at 09:59

      In THIS country, I would take the legal loopholes.

      Reply

    • Darren Peach

      July 30, 2019 at 10:07

      I wouldn’t risk it. SERIOUSLY. I went through multiple audits after finally getting all my freelance years back up to date. It was a very long process, almost two years. I was looking at a hefty fine. Thankfully I was it all worked out in the end. But when SARS reached into my bank and just took R 10 000 without warning, just before I got it all sorted, I knew the power of the tax man.

      Reply

    • Guz

      July 30, 2019 at 10:37

      In a heart beat, seriously,

      Reply

  2. Yahtzee

    July 30, 2019 at 09:52

    • Gavin Mannion

      July 30, 2019 at 09:59

      This only applies to America, every other normal country doesn’t work this way. American tax is weird and massively corrupt

      Reply

  3. For the Emperor!

    July 30, 2019 at 09:52

    “so that politicians have something to pilfer from” – hahahahahahahaa

    Reply

  4. Guz

    July 30, 2019 at 10:45

    Sneaky Fu&^ers

    Reply

  5. Gavin Mannion

    July 30, 2019 at 09:23

    Our planets tax laws need to be drastically simplified. The excuse that they aren’t breaking any laws is bullshit. Them and the massive tech companies need to be taken to task and taxed appropriately.

    Reply

    • Kromas

      July 30, 2019 at 09:30

      As far as I am aware neither Amazon nor Activision Blizzard pays tax either due to loopholes and it is in the billions that countries lose out on.

      Reply

      • Gavin Mannion

        July 30, 2019 at 09:30

        yeah Amazon, Facebook and Google are the evil trio of lawful tax evasion and are looting billions from the world. Modern day tech-colonialism. Looting from everywhere to enrich the imperial americans…

        It’s time to rise up and break shackles of tech-colonialism.. VIVA MY PATRIOTS…

        okay maybe going too far, but something needs to be done

        Reply

        • HvR

          July 30, 2019 at 09:37

          Not really the Imperial Americans; they enrich the evil Dutchies, Rooinekke, Irish and those Shifty Swiss.

          It is the governments of these countries that create the corporate tax havens so that the big corporations dump their billions in capital said countires that is to blame.

          Reply

    • Admiral Chief Umbra

      July 30, 2019 at 09:37

      Where there is (lots and lots of) money to be made, there are lots and lots of shady assclowns who are looking at loopholes to steal make more

      Reply

  6. HvR

    July 30, 2019 at 09:43

    “Take-Two appears to believe that it is reasonable that close to 100% of the profit should flow to their US-based parent companies and senior management, whilst almost no profit flows back to the UK companies involved in either making or selling the game.”

    Think that is BS. All that captial is safely somewhere in UK in corporate investment funds; if they sent it to the US they would be actually taxed on it.

    UK is notorious for being a corporate tax haven; so Georgie must take his torch and pitchfork and go set the Queens knickers on fire.

    Also I’m sure quite a big chunk of those billoins goes back to the developers in the form of bonuses and overtime. That is usually the only way to keep devs happy with constant crunch times they had to deal with.

    Reply

  7. For the Emperor!

    July 30, 2019 at 09:59

    This is what we call “Capitalism without a conscience”

    Reply

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