Friday, January 23, 2015

Tax relief for orchestras: the small print...

Please note: orchestras haven't actually got tax relief yet. But a government consultation is beginning to explore the proposal. Here is the Incorporated Society of Musicians' latest statement on the matter, pointing out some small print that needs a little attention.


Good news for musicians as orchestral tax relief consultation begins
‘Consultation on tax relief is good news’ say professional musicians, ‘but don’t forget to respond to the consultation to make it even better.’
Professional musicians have welcomed the Government’s consultation on a proposed tax relief for orchestras.
The consultation proposes a tax relief for orchestras which will be welcome news in the orchestral and composing communities, matching tax reliefs already in place for theatre productions and benefitting the UK’s orchestras.
The ISM – the professional body for musicians – has been supporting the efforts of the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) in securing this tax relief.
Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the ISM said:
‘This is excellent news for composers, performers and orchestras. A tax relief on orchestras – including commissions for new music – will be a valuable asset to the sector. We welcome the news from the Treasury and will be responding to the consultation by 5 March 2015; we urge all those who care about the future of music in the UK to do the same.’
‘We are, however, disappointed with some of the details of the proposals. In particular, the proposed very narrow definition of orchestras and the size requirements – will exclude a huge number of excellent ensembles which should be supported in this way: chamber ensembles, contemporary classical ensembles which often combine an innovative range of instruments, brass bands, jazz orchestras to name just a few. We will be asking in our consultation responses for these limits to be revised so that some of the UK’s best groups and ensembles can also benefit from this good news.’
The less welcome detail of the consultation:
·         The current proposals rule out many smaller orchestras and chamber groups consisting of fewer than 14 performers.
·         The consultation also proposes excluding instrument specific groups (such as brass bands and wind bands) insisting that only orchestras made up of strings, woodwind, brass and percussion will qualify for the tax relief.
Notes:
1. The less welcome detail of the consultation
3.3 Proposed definition of an ‘orchestral performance’ for the purposes of tax relief
To qualify, the majority of performances for which relief is being claimed must be played by a musical ensemble consisting of 14 or more performers and must include players drawn from each of the following four sections: string instruments, woodwind instruments, brass instruments and percussion instruments.

2. Other elements excluded from the proposal have been accepted: Ineligible performances include those for ‘entertainment with a competitive element, performances where the sole or main purpose is for advertising, performances intended solely or mainly for recording or broadcast.’
4. The Chancellor George Osborne first announced that tax breaks will be extended across the creative industries to include orchestras in his Autumn Statement in December 2014.
5. Twitter: @aborchestras tweet on 6 January: Productive meeting at HM Treasury on orchestra tax relief along with our friends @ISM_Music