Orchestras tax break - how to respond

It is great news that the Chancellor has announced a tax break for orchestras.

The details of how the tax break will work are now being consulted on by the Treasury, and we need your help to respond to the consultation to ensure that the tax break can cover the right groups.

In particular, we’ve noticed that some chamber orchestras and instrument specific groups would be excluded under the current proposals which say that, to qualify for the tax break:

  1. Orchestras must include each of the following four sections: string instruments, woodwind instruments, brass instruments and percussion instruments.
  2. The majority of performances being claimed for should be undertaken by musical ensembles ‘consisting of 14 or more performers.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the ISM has called on musicians to respond to the consultation saying:

‘The tax relief for orchestras is welcome news. However, we must make sure that the final detail secures the best deal for musicians. To do this, we are urging colleagues to respond to the consultation by 5 March 2015 asking for the size limit on the tax break to be lowered and for the instrumentation limits to be removed; brass bands, string orchestras and choirs should not be excluded and we have produced a template response to help you respond to the Treasury’s consultation.’

To help you respond, we’ve produced a template response you can copy and email in to the Treasury, adding any individual or personal comments if you wish.

The full details of the consultation are available on HM Treasury’s website.

How to respond:

You can respond by emailing: [email protected]

You must respond by Thursday 5 March 2015.

Template consultation response:

Dear HM Treasury
I am responding to HM Treasury’s consultation on an Orchestra tax relief launched on Friday 23 January 2015.
I support the principle of a tax break for orchestras and welcome the Treasury’s drive to extend the creative industries tax break to this sector.
{you can say a bit about your own musical experience here}
In my response I will only refer to questions 2 to 5 and question 8; I will not be commenting on questions 1, 6-7, and 9-16.
I believe that the current definition of an orchestra is too restrictive:
First, there are many small orchestras which have fewer than 14 players. In particular chamber orchestras and period ensembles may have as few as 10 performing musicians. I therefore recommend that the tax relief be applied to ensembles with ten or more performers. {you can give some personal examples here}
Second, the requirement for qualifying ensembles to have each of four instrument categories excludes a great deal of orchestral music. There are many instrument specific ensembles which would be omitted under the proposed definition, such as string orchestras, choral groups and brass bands.
Finally, I consider that any attempt to restrict the tax relief by reference to musical genre is likely to be unworkable in law.
In response to question 8, the proposals represent good news for composers. The hire and commissioning of new music must be included within the scope of the tax break.
I hope these views will be taken into consideration and support the principles of the tax break.
Yours sincerely,
{your name}

About the ISM

The ISM is the professional body for those working in the music profession. We promote music and look after the interests of professional musicians.

Our membership of approximately 7,000 covers both individual musicians and corporate bodies. Individual members include leading conductors, featured and non-featured artists, orchestral musicians working in all of the UK’s leading orchestras, composers, animateurs and arrangers.

Our corporate membership of over 160 music organisations includes the Association of British Orchestras, Rhinegold Publishing, Yamaha UK, the Royal Philharmonic Society, International Artists’ Managers Association, Help Musicians UK, British Voice Association, Music Sales Ltd, the Music Industries Association (MIA), British & International Federation of Festivals, Avid, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Royal Academy of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire and more.

For more information, contact [email protected]