Thursday, 18 May 2017

Reduce VAT on cinema tickets, urge Catalan parties and movie sector


Barcelona (ACN).- Global support in Catalonia to reduce VAT on cinema tickets from the current 21% to 10%. Deputies of the Catalan European Democratic party (PDeCat), the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), the Catalan Socialists (PSC), the United Popular Candidacy (CUP) and personalities from the movie sector such as director Isona Passola, also president of the Catalan Cinema Academy (Acadèmia del Cinema Català), and several associations of audiovisual production and cinema management gathered for a reduction campaign at the Catalan Author and Editors’ Association (SGAE) headquarters in Barcelona. The representatives urged the Spanish State to accept the proposal for a reduction of the cultural VAT presented last week by Catalan parties and the PSOE, the Spanish alternative left-wing Podemos as well as the Basque party, EH Bildu, for the General State Budget 2017.

Compared to other EU countries, in which cultural activities including the movie sector benefit from reduced VAT, Spanish citizens have to live with high taxes on culture. In Germany, for example, there is reduced VAT (7%) on movies (not including damaging content for youth). In Belgium cultural events have a VAT of 6% and in neighboring France, the VAT on cultural activities is 7%. Therefore, in Spain, politicians and associations of the cinema sector consider the 21% VAT on cinema tickets “discriminatory” in comparison to other EU countries.

Political support

After the cultural sector in Spain suffered a widely criticized increase in sales taxes from 8 to 21% in 2012, the conservative Popular Party government reduced certain VAT rates, but not on cinema tickets. At the doorstep of voting the new budget for 2017 in the Spanish Parliament, the opposition gathers new support for a reduction campaign.

Representatives of the Catalan European Democratic party and the Catalan Socialists reminded the liberal party Ciutadans of their commitment two years ago to a reduction in VAT on cinema. The representatives in favor of this reduction also call on parties in the Canary Islands and the National Basque Party (PNB) to join in support of the legislation. On the other hand, several parties expressed their astonishment at the reduction of the VAT for bull fighting events and theatre, but not for cinema. As a representative of the Catalan Republican Left reminded, there are only two votes necessary to implement this proposal in the State budget for 2017.

The issue will have to be resolved in the Spanish Parliament, because the Senate is controlled by a majority of the governing Popular Party and therefore “it’s a lost battle” according to Catalan socialist Rafel Bruguera.

Isabel Passola “a 21% VAT on movies is strategically not intelligent”

The president of the Catalan Cinema Academy defined the audiovisual industry as a powerful state structure. In this context, Passola states that “maintaining a VAT of 21% on cinema tickets is not very intelligent from a strategic position,” because it affects the most important part of the current cultural structure. Moreover, Passola confirmed that the moment movie tickets’ prices drop, more people go to the cinema. Therefore the president of the Academy questions the logic of this VAT increase, “except if it’s an intentional sabotage against the critical Spanish cinema sector”.

The political groups in favor of this reduction campaign agree on considering culture as a basic right in order to promote free and fully-educated citizens. Therefore they consider it unconceivable that the cinematographic sector suffers discrimination, while live events like bull fighting or theatre benefit from a reduction in VAT.

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  • Catalan representatives of culture and politics at the SGAE headquarters in Barcelona (by Sara Miñana)