No time to pay? How James Bond cuts UK tax bill

Investigation reveals makers of James Bond film franchise received more than £100m in tax subsidies in UK but pay little corporation tax here

The makers of the James Bond film franchise have received more than £100million in tax subsidies in the UK but pay little corporation tax here, an investigation has revealed. 

Eon Productions is responsible for making 007 films at Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, with each movie taking around £750million at the box office worldwide. 

But an investigation by campaign group Tax Watch UK has revealed the company makes only a small amount of taxable profit in this country.

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Tax Watch alleges that Danjaq, which ultimately owns the Bond franchise and is based in Delaware and California, as well as its Hollywood partners reap the benefit of cinema ticket sales. 

Danjaq is owned by Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, daughter of legendary American film producer Cubby Broccoli. Leaked files from 2014 suggest that Danjaq took almost half the $232million (£180million) profit from Skyfall alone, with Sony also taking a share. 

London-based Eon Productions transfers the ownership of the film to a company based in the US before each one is released. 

It admitted in 2015 that it sells the films to Danjaq for a price ‘equal to the total cost of production less the amount received in respect of UK Tax Credits’. 

Eon Productions received £30million in tax credits in the year Spectre was made. But that was sunk into losses almost exactly equal to that amount, which meant the company only just broke even. Accounts for an Eon subsidiary, which are understood to be linked to the next in the franchise, No Time To Die, indicate the makers received another £47million last year. 

Tax Watch says the subsidy will exceed £100 million when combined with estimates for Quantum Of Solace and Skyfall. 

By contrast, Eon regularly pays less than £500,000 annual corporation tax. There is no suggestion Eon or Danjaq pay less tax than legally required. The films attracted an estimated £550million of foreign investment into the UK in the period.

Eon Productions said: ‘Since the 1960s, Danjaq has chosen to make the James Bond films in the UK through Eon Productions, resulting in the investment of more than a billion dollars in the UK film industry, the employment of tens of thousands of people and showcasing the talents of British film to the world.’ 

It said profit is ‘subject to tax in either the UK or the USA’ and ‘none of the income in sheltered in a tax haven’. 

‘Eon has utilised the UK tax credits to help fund the making of Bond films in the manner intended by the Government. This has enabled the Bond films to continue to be made in the UK to the benefit of the UK film industry.’ 

The Film Tax Relief scheme requires films to be ‘culturally British’. Since 2007 £3.9billion has been paid to 3,470 films. But it has been criticised by independent filmmakers for benefitting wealthy corporations. 

Cinema bosses are reeling after No Time To Die’s release was delayed this month. Cineworld temporarily closed all its outlets days after. 

Tax Watch researcher Alex Dunnagan said: ‘The British taxpayer is subsidising these films to the tune of tens of millions of pounds.’