Isle of Man Aims For Slice of Download Market

Officials say the Irish Sea island, tax-friendly to business, has the bandwidth to attract film and music download companies to its growing tech industry

The Isle of Man wants to boost its burgeoning offshore tech industry by convincing film and music download businesses to relocate to the island.

In recent years the Isle of Man has been successful in attracting a host of online businesses such as, 'virtual wallet' payment provider Neteller and hosting firm Continent 8.

Tim Craine, director of e-business for the Isle of Man Treasury, told this influx of companies "has brought a lot of high-quality jobs".

The average salary in the island's high-tech industry is £46,000 with around 300 people - out of a population of just 80,000 - employed in the online gaming business alone. Now the Isle of Man also wants a slice of the lucrative download market.

"We are looking at targeting downloads - film, music, iTunes, that type of thing. We have got the bandwidth volume to bring the costs down," said Craine.

In addition abundant bandwidth, the Isle of Man offers a tax-friendly location for businesses with zero corporation tax. For private companies there is also a cap on personal liability tax at £100,000 a year.

To qualify for those benefits a company must be able to demonstrate it has relocated its main headquarters to the island. This means the transaction server for point-of-sale must be located there as well as the day-to-day management critical to the running of the corporate entity - typically the CEO and CFO roles.

But Craine denied it is merely a cosmetic exercise used by companies to exploit tax loopholes.

"We are looking to offer a solution that is mainstream within tax planning circles and is accepted tax practice," he said.

The Isle of Man faces stiff competition, however, from other offshore tax-friendly locations including Gibraltar and the Channel Islands of Alderney and Guernsey.