The amount of UK tax relief claimed by the developer of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 nearly doubled between 2018 and 2019. As reported in the Sunday Telegraph (via Taxwatch UK), the relief claimed by Rockstar now accounts for more than a third of all money paid out by the scheme.
In 2019 Rockstar North claimed £37.6 million under the Video Games Tax Relief scheme, which provides tax breaks to games that pass a 'Cultural Test' to assess their British-ness. In 2018 the company had claimed £19 million under the same scheme, and has received a total of £80 million since it was first introduced. VGTR as a whole was originally estimated to cost the UK taxpayer around £35 million a year, but that figure has now swelled to more than £100 million.
Rockstar's claim accounts for 37% of all money paid out by VGTR last year, up from 18% in 2018. More than 1,100 claims have been made since the scheme's introduction, but a handful of major studios have claimed the lion's share - as well as Rockstar, Sony and Sega have both benefitted significantly, as has Batman parent studio WarnerMedia.
The reason for the increase in funds allocated to Rockstar is likely to relate to the company's next game. A new Grand Theft Auto is expected in the next few years and, as work on the studio's current project spins up, costs are likely to rise. Despite having received tens of millions in tax relief and developing some of the most successful games in the world, however, Rockstar North has paid no corporation tax in the UK for the past four years, which certainly raises questions about whether the scheme is helping the studios it should be helping.