OTR scheme

Would you like us to help you claim some money for your instrumental group?

HMRC's Creative Tax Reliefs includes a scheme that was set up to support instrumental and orchestral productions in the UK. This scheme (known as Orchestra Tax Relief (OTR) but open to all instrumental groups) helps groups claim annual production costs such as venue hire, artist fees and rehearsal costs, with the aim of helping them to re-invest in new events and projects.

However, signing up to this scheme can sometimes be a lengthy process and requires changes to the way that you operate. Despite the lure of free money, we know that you'd rather be making music, which is why Making Music can submit a tax claim on your behalf via our own OTR service. Once your claim has been set up, we can make a claim for you every year. So far, we have helped groups claim a total of over half a million pounds!

'Honestly we would be struggling to break even without the OTR. It has allowed us to keep running and to play the music we want to play rather than having to constantly focus on bums on seats and making ends meet' - Henley Symphony Orchestra

Before we start, let's clarify a few things about the scheme 

  • Instrumental groups of any kind can claim using this service. Brass bands, concert bands, wind bands, string players, handbell ringers, jazz bands, flute choirs, ensembles...  you name it! As long as there are 12 or more instrumentalists who are the main focus of the performance, then you could use this service to claim back production costs. 

  • You do not currently need to be paying tax or previously registered with HMRC. As part of this service, we will submit a tax return for you. However, it makes no difference whether or not you have paid any tax prior to using this service. 

  • Some Creative Industries Tax relief schemes require you to complete a cultural test to claim. This is not a requirement for OTR.

Now, let's check if you're eligible. Are you…?

  • an instrumental group with an annual income under £100K? 

  • organising future events with 12 or more instrumentalists as the main focus? 

  • putting on events that will be taking place over the next few years? 

So why should you use our service?

If you answered yes to the criteria above, chances are that you will be able to claim production costs on all your performances. Essentially, you will be getting money for what you are already doing!

Over the last few years, we have supported many successful claims. On average so far, our groups have reclaimed around 16% of their production costs. 

Here are some examples:

  • £7,900 return from production costs of £51,000

  • £4,600 return from production costs of £31,000

  • £2,300 return from production costs of £14,600

  • £1,100 return from production costs of £6,200

'These extra funds directly impact on the decisions we are able to make regarding repertoire for the orchestra and means we can budget for larger scale/in copyright works. More exciting and varied concerts for our audience and more interesting works for the orchestra ensuring all our regulars (including the non "classical" instruments such as tuba) are kept happy' - Maidstone Symphony Orchestra

What do you need to do?

We will walk you through every stage of this process. You will need to do a little bit of work before the first claim but this only needs to be done once, and then we can put in a claim for you every year!

  1. Check the eligibility for your group and each planned performance.

  2. Set up separate production company which will manage the production of upcoming events

  3. Register with our service

What do we do for you?

  • Guide you through the group and performance eligibility check

  • Provide detailed step-by-step guidance and phone / email support for setting up a production company 

  • Supply a template spreadsheet to make your accounts easier for filing

  • Review all your accounts at year end and submit them to Companies House and HMRC

'We are delighted to have just received our first payment from HMRC for Orchestra Tax Relief. We worked closely with Making Music on this- they provided us with training at the start of the process and hand-holding throughout. Hopefully, many other amateur orchestras will also take advantage of this welcome governmental support to amateur music' - Ealing Symphony Orchestra

How much does it cost?

All eligibility and setting-up guidance is free for members. If you decide that this service is for you, a fee is required to access the accounting template, financial checks and for us to compile and submit your claim. 

There is a fee for this service: 

  • Our fee will be 12% of the OTR payment you receive from HMRC
  • That 12% figure will include VAT
  • There is a minimum fee of £175
  • There is no maximum fee, but we are happy to negotiate a fee cap for large OTR claims.


  • You get £6,000 from HMRC. 12% of £6,000 = £720. Our fee is £720
  • You get £2,500 from HMRC. 12% of £2,500 = £300. Our fee is £300
  • You get £1,200 from HMRC. 12% of £1,200 = £144. Our fee is £175

Still not sure? Read about how Henley Symphony Orchestra have benefited from making a claim

More about OTR 

Register your interest in OTR service