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How does the Irish film tax incentive work?

A brief introduction to the Irish film tax incentive

The Irish Film Tax incentive (‘Section 481’) was created to encourage the production of Film, Documentary, TV and Animation in Ireland with a particular focus on incentivising international producers to bring their productions to Ireland.

Films and TV series which bring all or some of their production to Ireland are able to apply to Irish Tax Authorities (via an Irish based company) for a tax refund delivering a percentage of costs on goods and services utilised within Ireland. The name of this Irish Tax Credit system is ‘Section 481’ and it has helped to drive growth within the Irish Film Industry increasing its ability to cater for high-quality international productions.

Section 481 allows productions to benefit from a financial injection of up to 32% of whichever of the following is the lowest:

  • Irish eligible expenditure

  • 80% of total film production costs

  • €70 million

Use our calculator to find out how much your project would benefit from producing your film in Ireland and explore three examples here.

In addition to this, there is a possibility of a regional uplift on the 32% (5% extra in 2021 and 3% extra in 2022, 2% in 2023) when the production occurs in an area of low audio-visual production. Find out more about the Section 481 Regional Uplift here

What types of projects are eligible for the Irish Film Tax Incentive?

Films and series of all genres which are made for cinema, television or other distribution platforms are eligible to avail of the Irish Film Tax Incentive. This includes feature films, TV series, creative documentaries and animations. Adult content and extremely violent films are excluded as are commercials, reality shows and soap operas.

What are the most common types of projects to utilise Section 481?

  1. SERVICE WORKS. These productions typically originate and are creatively led by production companies outside of Ireland.  A local Irish Film production services company is utilised by the international producer to facilitate the Section 481 process and also provide additional on the ground services to the international producer.

  2. CO-PRODUCTIONS. These productions come in many shapes and sizes however they tend to involve one Irish Producer and one international producer who share the creative and financial responsibilities . In many cases these productions receive additional support from Irish funding bodies such as Screen Ireland.

  3. IRISH FILMS. These are productions that originate within Ireland by local production companies and are normally led creatively and majority funded from within the state.

How do I know if my project qualifies? – The Cultural Test

Each production applying for the Section 481 tax incentive must utilise an Irish registered and resident company who have been trading for at least the previous 12 months in Ireland. An application is drawn up and submitted to Ireland’s Department of Culture to highlight the project’s cultural merits and confirm eligibility. Following on from this a claim is then made for the first tranche of money from the Irish Tax authorities (90% of the total claim).

Using our strategically chosen legal and accounting partners we at Irish Film Services work with you to put everything in place to apply and receive the benefit in an efficient and timely manner.

How do you apply for the Irish Film Tax Incentive?

Each production applying for the Section 481 tax incentive must utilise an Irish registered and resident company who have been trading for at least the previous 12 months in Ireland. An application is drawn up and submitted to Ireland’s Department of Culture to highlight the project’s cultural merits and confirm eligibility. Following on from this a claim is then made for the first tranche of money from the Irish Tax authorities (90% of total claim).

Using our strategically chosen legal and accounting partners we at the Irish Film Bureau work with you to put everything in place to apply and receive the benefit in an efficient and timely manner.

Who provides the financial support?

The finance is received from Irish Tax Authorities ( Revenue) with 90% of the relief eligible to be transferred in advance of production.

What expenses are considered eligible under Section 481?

All cast and crew (including international cast and crew) are considered eligible expenditure from the moment they arrive on Irish soil. Additionally all goods and services sourced in Ireland are eligible including post-production and VFX.

What costs are excluded or limited from the tax relief?

There are a few very specific costs which are not deemed as eligible. We can guide you through the process of identifying such costs. The costs most commonly deemed ineligible are certain legal and accounting costs and also marketing and publicity costs.

How much is the incentive worth to my finance plan?

The Section 481 benefit is 32% of whichever is the lowest of:

  • eligible expenditure

  • 80% of total film production costs

  • €70 million

In terms of international productions, our experience is that for the majority of productions this translates to 32% of all expenses incurred in Ireland including international cast and crew costs relating to work carried out on Irish soil. Check our examples and our calculator to learn more!

Can a project receive finance beyond the 32% figure?

Yes, it is possible to receive more than 32% by availing of the Regional Uplift. More info here.

© Irish Film Services 2021