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GTA developer Rockstar pushes back against UK tax abuse allegations

Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar has refuted the suggestion its abusing the UK government’s Video Game Tax Relief initiative, which lets devs claim money back on production costs, and dodging corporation tax. 

In a blog published over the weekend, investigate think tank TaxWatch UK shone a spotlight on the studio’s latest accounts, and claimed the developer was by far the largest claimant of Tax Relief in 2018/19, accounting for 37 percent of all claims made by the UK games industry.

According to TaxWatch, Rockstar claimed £37.6 million ($49.1 million) in Tax Relief during that time, taking its total to £80 million ($104.5 million) since the program was introduced, and has also neglected to pay corporation tax for the past decade. 

As for why that’s an issue, TaxWatch claims the Tax Relief fund was established to help smaller game developers, but that huge companies like Rockstar — which has made more than $6 billion from sales of GTA V alone since 2014 – are preventing that from happening. 

It’s not the first time the organisation has hit out at RockStar. In July last year the group accused the company of gaming the system by disproportionally allocating profits between its UK and U.S. studios to ensure it can keep claiming tax relief on British soil.

Although Rockstar didn’t respond at the time, the studio has now issued a statement to VG247 suggesting its ability to access Tax Relief has actually helped grow the UK games industry.

“The UK’s program to support the growth of a broad range of creative industries through tax relief is a proven success. The program has directly resulted in Rockstar Games significantly increasing its investment in the UK, creating well over 1,000 highly skilled and long term jobs across London, Lincoln, Yorkshire and Scotland,” said a company spokesperson.

“This investment and the success of British video games supported by the program not only significantly contributes to the economy, and to UK tax receipts, but also helps solidify the UK’s position at the forefront of video game development well into the future.”