Grand Theft Auto V isn’t just one of the most popular and best-selling video games out there. It is in fact the most profitable entertainment product of all time. By April 2018, the game achieved 90 million sales worldwide and generated US$6 billion in revenue (via gamesindustry.biz). The biggest film phenomenon in recent times, Avengers: Endgame only made around US$2.7 billion which isn’t half the amount GTA V made.
With that amount of success you’d never think that the game’s developer would have any problems paying their taxes but the world is a strange place. According to a report from TaxWatch UK, GTA developer Rockstar North actually hasn’t been paying a single cent of UK corporation tax in the last 10 years.
— taxwatch (@taxwatch) July 28, 2019
In fact, the same report even showed that Rockstar North received £42 million (US$51 million) in tax credits from the UK government video games tax relief scheme which was set up to support the £5 billion video games industry in the UK (via The Guardian). The companies who apply for the tax relief scheme are mostly small and medium-sized developers and Rockstar North is far from either being small or medium.
What this means is that UK taxpayers have paid millions to subsidise games like GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2. If the report is accurate then Rockstar North has basically been making a crazy amount of money and still claimed for more money through taxes while paying back zero taxes.
“It is outrageous that the UK taxpayer is being asked to shell out tens of millions of pounds in subsidy to the developers of Grand Theft Auto, when at the time that the game’s developers put in their tax credit application Grand Theft Auto V had already generated several billion dollars in sales and profits. This is a drive-by assault on the British taxpayer and corporate welfare scrounging at its very worst.”
– Director of TaxWatch, George Tuurner
TaxWatch concluded that the UK government should be focusing on how the tax relief for games is allocated. It also stated that Rockstar and parent company Take-Two have technically done nothing illegal. So far Rockstar has not made any responses.