Cash Rebate in Finland Boosts Film Pulling Power


A clear and simple rebate process is proving to be a big boost for the film production industry in Finland.


This boost has come in the form of a 25% cash rebate for goods, services and salaries spent in connection with productions in the country. The cash rebate in Finland, and the uncomplicated process to obtain it, pushes Finland ahead in terms of widespread international practice and adds to the competitiveness of Lapland and the rest of Finland as a film production destination.


Now we are playing with the same pack of cards as everyone else,” says Johanna Karppinen, CEO of Audiovisual Finland, established in 2008 to support the internationalisation of the Finnish film industry.


“Nearly all EU countries have a rebate system in place already. A company will film where there is the best combination of artistic and financial needs, and now Finland can compete with everyone else from that point of view. I’ve been discussing this incentive since I entered the industry in 2008, and it has taken several governments to arrive at this decision. But the present Government took up the topic very quickly, and it went through for approval within 18 months, which is super quick,” Johanna says.


Crystal clear criteria


According to Johanna, one of the strong points of the new system, which came into force at the beginning of 2017, is crystal clear and streamlined application process. Compared with similar systems in other countries, the process in Finland is much clearer and makes it easier for prospective claimants to understand the criteria before they actually make their claim. Now international and Finnish production companies are more likely to take advantage of assets in Lapland and across the rest of the country.


The cash rebate in Finland is funded equally by the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Employment and of Education and Culture and administered by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.


“There are minimum budget and spend levels, and it’s quite clear what costs are eligible and what are not, with criteria spelled out on the website. Payment is made about four weeks once the report from the production side has been submitted,” she says.


The incentive has already proved very popular.


“There is a ten-million-euro annual cap on applications.  The cap is required under Finland’s annual budgetary system. It remains to be seen whether the amount is sufficient, and the first results in terms of productions lured to Finland won’t be clear until 2018. But there is now strong political recognition of the incentive’s potential. The 25% rate is in line with what we have been discussing and compares well with our lobbying target. Some countries have a higher rate, but their costs are higher,” Johanna tells.


The budget for 2017 has been fully exhausted. Some of the funding decisions are conditional. If the terms of the funding decision are not met by the deadline, the funding is released for application. Applications cannot be submitted at this time. The Finnish Funding Agency will report on the situation in the near future. Budget and dates for the next year will be published later this year.


In line with EU regulations, commercial films, reality TV shows and pornography do not fall within the cultural criteria for rebate applications. Rebates on direct costs such as travel and accommodation will mean knock-on support for those sectors, as well as a multiplier effect on retail and leisure services used by visiting crews and even their families. Finnish crews will accrue experience and attract more work and local talent will stand less chance of being lured from Finland, so the economic effects are broad and significant.


More info about the cash rebate.


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