Judgement – RE: Thursford Enterprises

Judgement – RE: Thursford Enterprises

The taxpayer, represented by Patrick Boch, won its appeal in Thursford Enterprises [2022] UKFTT 240.  The case turned on whether the Thursford Spectacular, an annual Christmas Show in Norfolk, was eligible for theatre tax relief.

The Revenue claimed the show was not an “other dramatic piece” because it does not tell a story; and that the performances of the singers, dancers, etc., were not wholly or mainly through the playing of roles.

The Tribunal preferred the taxpayer’s argument, however, that story-telling was not required (this being an impermissible gloss), but rather that what characterised a dramatic piece was the ‘fictional mimetic’, its representational quality and the creation of an illusory world, as described in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

On the issue of playing roles the Tribunal found what was required was ‘direction’ (e.g. as to the facial expressions of the performers), rather than, as the Revenue argued, an independent interpretation by an actor.

The decision is welcome news for taxpayers seeking theatre tax relief.  The Tribunal adopting a broad interpretation of the legislation may also carry weight in connection with related reliefs (e.g. those concerned with video games, television and orchestral performances).


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