Rockstar North hasn’t paid corporation tax in the UK for 10 years, claims tax relief

The thinktank TaxWatch UK has issued a report stating that Rockstar North, part of Rockstar Games and a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive, has not paid any corporation tax in the UK for the last 10 years. This is despite record-breaking sales for Grand Theft Auto V and high sales for Red Dead Redemption 2, along with the income coming in from both GTA Online and Red Dead Online. The report also claims that the studio claimed £42 million in tax relief from the government’s tax relief fund for the game industry. Applicants to this fund have to meet a total of 16 points out of 31 to be eligible for tax relief, and you can see the full list of requirements below.

Section A – Cultural content
A1 Set in the UK or an EEA state or (Up to 3 points will be awarded for set in an undetermined location) Up to 4 Points
A2 Lead characters British or EEA citizens or residents (or characters from an undetermined location) Up to 4 Points
A3 Video game based on British subject matter or relates to an EEA state or underlying material 4 points
A4 Original dialogue recorded mainly in English language or one of six UK indigenous languages Up to 4 Points
Section B – Cultural contribution
B Video game represents/reflects British creativity, British heritage or diversity Up to 4 Points
Section C – Cultural hubs
C1 At least 50% of the conceptual development or storyboarding or programming or design takes place in the UK 2 points
C2 At least 50% of the music recording or audio production or voice recording takes place in the UK 1 point
Section D – Personnel
D1 1 of the 3 lead project leaders is an EEA citizen or resident 1 point
D2 1 of the 3 lead scriptwriters is an EEA citizen or resident 1 point
D3 1 of the 3 lead composers is an EEA citizen or resident 1 point
D4 1 of the 3 lead artists is an EEA citizen or resident 1 point
D5 1 of the 3 lead programmers is an EEA citizen or resident 1 point
D6 1 of the 3 lead designers is an EEA citizen or resident 1 point
D7 At least 1 of the 7 key HoDs is an EEA citizen or resident 1 point
D8 At least 50% of the development team are EEA citizens or residents 1 point
Total 31 points

Rockstar North would meet the requirements likely through all of section D, which gives 8 points, C1 gives a further two points, A4 which adds another 4 points, and there could be arguments for B as the game is created in Britain taking it past the 16 point threshold. Tax is an incredibly complicated area and no doubt Rockstar North is set up so much of the income actually goes back to Take-Two Interactive in the USA. That income going back to the US would mean the UK finances wouldn’t show a profit so no tax would be eligible to be paid.


Rockstar isn’t the only company to take advantage of loopholes in UK tax law with the likes of Amazon and Starbucks also cited as corporations that don’t pay as much tax as expected. Gareth Williams of LittleBigPR tweeted the following.

Until such loopholes are addressed this will continue, with it unlikely that Rockstar will be voluntarily paying tax to the UK government when it has found ways which mean it doesn’t have to.

Source: The Guardian

Written by
From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.


  1. I imagine this is an unpopular opinion but good on these devs for saving a bit of money on tax where they can, I naively hope that either their employees or us as the customer benefits. The tax relief system isn’t a loophole, it’s 100% legitimate money saving to give companies an incentive to stay or move to the UK. Even loopholes are fair game really, I’m sure we all wish we could take advantage of one to get some extra cash in our pockets, we shouldn’t be jealous of anyone who does…. but it’s fair to hate their guts if they don’t take that little pot of gold and pay a bit forward :)

  2. It’s not that surprising that a UK company doing work for a US company owned by another US company doesn’t actually make any profit in the UK, is it? How much tax are Take-Two paying in the US? How much tax are the Rockstar North employees paying? How much VAT has been paid on the 15 billion copies of GTA5 sold? (Ok, maybe not quite 15 billion copies)

    They’re just doing a bit of work for a US company that makes all the profit. Not even close to the same situation as some other companies that clearly make a profit in the UK and manage to avoid paying any tax by various means.

  3. If the company employs people in the UK, then they are at least contributing to the economy and paying other taxes. (Doesn’t excuse Corporation Tax dodging, but worth remembering)

    Employers have a 13.8% national insurance liability for all employee earnings over £8600pa (ish) plus the apprenticeship levy if their annual wage bill qualifies them.

Comments are now closed for this post.