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Upper limit of Section 481 tax incentive seen as “barrier" to Ireland securing large-scale international productions, new report finds
29 Apr 2021 : Nathan Griffin
Ardmore Studios and Troy Studios CEO Elaine Geraghty
Troy Studios and Ardmore Studios CEO Elaine Geraghty believes that the upper limit of €70 million on the Irish Section 481 tax incentive is acting as “a barrier” to Ireland securing “large-scale international productions”.

This comes following the publication of a new PwC Report, commissioned by Ardmore Studios and Troy Studios, which highlights how the Section 481 tax credit underpins the success of the screen sector.

The report reveals how Film, TV and Animation productions supported by the Section 481 tax credit scheme delivered over €469 million in total economic contribution to Ireland in 2019. This figure is estimated to represent a return on investment of €3.80 for every €1. 

The report also finds that there were 124 productions supported by Section 481 in 2019, which enabled the employment of 16,952 full time positions and provided an estimated 40,000 days of skills training and development.

The Government’s stated ambition is to increase the scale of the sector to a point where we will double employment to 24,000 people employed, delivering a gross value added of some €1.4bn,” Ms. Geraghty stated. “To achieve this, the Section 481 incentive needs to be adjusted to ensure Ireland remains as competitive globally as possible.”

“What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that the upper limit of €70 million on our Section 481 tax incentive is a barrier to Ireland securing those large-scale international productions,” Ms. Geraghty added.

The PwC report — The Film/TV Industry & Ireland’s Economy: Insights report on the contribution of Section 481 Film Tax Credit-supported production activity to the Irish economy — was commissioned by the sister studios with the support of Animation Ireland and Screen Producers Ireland. 

It sets out to quantify the positive contribution the sector delivers to the national economy, whilst demonstrating the importance of Section 481 to incentivise the growth and success of domestic and international productions.

Discussing the launch of the industry report, Screen Producers Ireland CEO, Susan Kirby said that the indigenous independent production sector, along with local crew, underpin the success of S481 in developing a world class Irish AV sector and attracting incoming productions to film in Ireland. “The ongoing success of the Irish AV sector and S481 will be through the work of Irish producers continuing to secure incoming productions along with the continued development and creation of Irish-centered content,” Kirby said.

According to Elaine Geraghty, CEO of Troy Studios and Ardmore Studios the ongoing success of industry is underpinned by a range of factors, including Ireland’s skilled talent pool in front of and behind the camera, as well as the availability and development of high-quality studio facilities. 

The Section 481 film tax credit, however, is the cornerstone of Ireland’s successful screen industry and a critical pillar of the financing structure of the industry. The report also attributes the need for adjustment of the tax credit to the Increase in global competition for major productions, with countries including the UK, Hungary, and Czech Republic adapting film tax incentives to offer more attractive packages.

“Section 481 allows Ireland to compete for international production investment and it is timely to look at that competitive landscape to ensure our incentive continues to attract those multi-million scaled repeat productions that can further develop our skills and talent pool, as well as provide  significant further fiscal benefits to our economy,” Ms. Geraghty said.

“Covid-19 has shown the insatiable global need and appetite for new content and programming,” Geraghty continued. “The pandemic has also showcased the resilience of the sector, where it swiftly adapted and invested significantly to provide a safe environment for productions to continue during 2020 and to date. A step change has taken place internationally for demand, and Ireland is well placed to take advantage of this.”

Commenting on the figures, Animation Ireland Chief Executive Ronan McCabe added; ‘’The PwC report shows that Ireland is now a major global player when it comes to animation production, and this is something we should all be extremely proud of. The creativity, talent and expertise we have on this island is extraordinary. The Irish animation industry has enormous potential and these figures demonstrate that the sector is moving in the right direction.”

Tom Collins: “For me it's all about the work, which is about creating a reflection of a modern Irish cultural identity that can travel beyond borders, history and these shores.”
Over €4.6m allocated by Creative Europe to Irish screen industry in 2021
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