Belgium's federal government will unveil plans next week for a tax shelter aimed at attracting private investors to participate in the production of feature films, documentaries and TV series. A press conference, during which Belgium's minister of finance Didier Reynders will outline the tax scheme, is scheduled for January 23.
Although no details will be released before the press conference, it is understood that the tax shelter will be based on a tax deferral for investors in audiovisual production.
The initiative, which is part of an overall tax reform the government plans to introduce next year, is the result of an agreement between the federal government and both the Flemish and French-speaking regional governments which are in charge of culture and media. Both regional ministers in charge of film, French-speaking Richard Miller and his Flemish colleague Dirk Van Mechelen, confirmed the breakthrough after almost 25 years of tax shelter talks.
"The introduction of a tax shelter will allow me to develop a new Flemish audiovisual policy," added Van Mechelen. "European directives stipulate that audiovisual subsidies should be in accordance with the market reality. We are not allowed to inject more subsidies than there is private capital. The only way for us to raise the current Euros8.6m overall audiovisual subsidy budget is by introducing a tax scheme that would make it more attractive to invest in the sector."
Miller added: "The aim is to create, in the medium term, an audiovisual sector that is less dependent on public funding, and which is able to for instance attract foreign investment. All this should contribute to the creation of new jobs."
Miller has also called for the introduction in Belgium of a national computerised box office system to generate improved data on box office grosses. For this, he has started talks with Belgium's economic affairs minister Charles Pique.