Can you claim the cost of Pokémon Go in your business tax return?

Pokemon Go


Using players’ phones to hunt and capture cartoon creatures, this game is now one of the most used mobile apps and has been downloaded by an incredible 75 million people worldwide. Pokémon Go is everywhere at the moment, and many small businesses who rely on footfall have figured out that they can use the huge popularity of the game to lure new customers their way.

But if you run a local business and use Pokémon Go to attract customers to your location, can you claim tax relief on the cost? Emily Coltman FCA, chief accountant to FreeAgent – which provides cloud accounting software for freelancers, micro-businesses and their accountants – takes a deeper look into the tax implications for businesses wanting to capitalise on this year’s hottest mobile game.

What can you actually claim?

PokestopAlthough Pokémon Go is a free-to-play app, there are a lot of in-game purchases to consider. Players use real-world money to buy PokéCoins (the game world currency), which can then be used to purchase anything from extra PokéBalls and potions right through to egg incubators and cameras.

But while the vast majority of these in-game purchases are designed to help the individual player and would be ineligible for tax relief, there is one that savvy small business owners are using to benefit their business ventures – lures.

You can buy lure modules and put them on a PokéStop near your business. Each lure module attracts Pokémon characters to that PokéStop for 30 minutes – which in turn attracts players to that spot for that time!

So, if you buy a block of eight lure modules, you can put the lure in place for four hours, and that’ll cost you 680 PokéCoins, which will cost you between £3.75 to £7.99 for the four hours, depending on how many PokéCoins you buy.

Once Pokémon-crazy customers have been attracted to the area, many businesses capitalise on the opportunity by offering incentives to stick around, such as giving free drinks, treats or just an invitation to come inside to their premises.

How do I claim?

You may think that it’s a brand new promotional technique, but attracting customers with Pokémon Go lures is actually just old-fashioned advertising and marketing using an exciting new digital platform. When you spend money on advertising and marketing costs, you are able to deduct those costs from your taxable profit, meaning you will pay less tax (this is also called ‘claiming tax relief’).

Therefore Pokémon Go lures would be allowable for tax as an advertising and marketing cost – just the same as the cost of attending and advertising at an exhibition would be allowable, for example. Just remember that you may have to justify any tax relief claim to HMRC if they query it, so be prepared to explain how a lure is helping your business.

Now train your sights on those Pokémon-mad potential customers – and go catch ‘em all!

Emily Coltman FCA is chief accountant at FreeAgent – which provides cloud accounting software for freelancers, micro-businesses and the accountants they work with. Try it for free at