The European Commission has given the green light for a tax shelter for Belgium’s gaming industry, the Commission said, opening the door for new success stories in the industry as investors obtain tax exemptions through a virtually risk-free investment; whilst the Belgian state gains from increased economic activity and spend.
Wallonia, the southern region of Belgium, is already a hotbed for gaming companies thanks to an excellent ecosystem of dynamic game development studios such as Fishing Cactus, Appeal, Wild Bishop and Abrakam that are driving the sector forward and a large talent pool whose quality is recognized internationally.
The tax shelter in the AV industry has met with uninterrupted success to the tune of over 200m EUR/year since its introduction in 2003, valued at nearly 2.4bn EUR so far. The volume of audiovisual (AV) productions filmed in Belgium has more than doubled, while since 2017 the mechanism has been extended to include the ‘performing arts’. From 2023 onwards, the tax shelter has now been expanded to include the gaming industry.
How Does it Work?
The Belgian tax shelter is a government-approved tax incentive designed to encourage the production of gaming productions in Belgium. The system is open to Belgian productions as well as international co-productions with Belgium that meet certain criteria.
“All three parties benefit from this arrangement; the producer is offered a very attractive way to finance projects, the investor obtains tax exemption through a virtually risk-free investment and the Belgian state gains from increased economic activity and spend,” Jean Greban, Coordinator of the regional Wallonia Gaming Association (WalGA) said.
Based upon the amount of qualifying investment costs the production will spend in Europe and upon the amount of direct and indirect Belgium-eligible expenses, the Ministry of Finance can provide tax shelter certificates to investors. The investor must make its full payment within three months of signing the framework agreement. Through the system, the investor pre-finances the production and/or post-production costs in return for tax benefits and a possible fixed return on investment.
What’s the Advantage for the Producer?
The tax shelter allows to finance up to 33.7% gross (27.2 % net) of the eligible production budget of the total qualifying expenses in the EEA. All expenditure in the European Economic Area (EEA) for goods and services related to video games is eligible for the tax shelter. This includes all European Union countries as well as Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.
Success to date shows that the expansion of the tax shelter is a huge opportunity for gaming studios and their investors, Michela Ritondo at the Fiscal Department for Foreign Investments of the Federal Finance Ministry said: “From 2003 until 2022, more than 2,000 audiovisual works financed through the tax shelter for a total of more than € 2.4 billion in tax shelter Investments. We encourage gaming studios and their investors to check in with us and get traction fast here.”
Federal Finance Ministry
Fiscal Department for Foreign Investments
Boulevard du Roi Albert II, 33 (North Galaxy)
BE – 1030 Brussels
Phone: +32 (0)257 938 69
E-Mail: Michela.Ritondo @Minfin.fed.be
Website: www .fin.belgium .be