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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 13:55 GMT
Cruise hit by tax demand
Tom Cruise
Cruise was visited by the prime minister
Tom Cruise and other cast and crew on the star's latest film have been hit by surprise tax demands from the New Zealand Government.

The bills are asking for tax to be paid on daily living allowances and have angered industry officials in the country.

Cruise is spending four months in New Zealand to film the $100m (£69m) historical epic, The Last Samurai.

Ironically, the bills arrived just a few days after Prime Minister Helen Clark visited the set and posed with Cruise for a photo.

The amount demanded on the bills has not been made clear.

New Zealand has a growing reputation with film-makers partly because of the tax-free incentives for production companies.

New Zealand film industry spokesman David Madigan said: "To impose the tax in the middle of a shoot is just shocking."

Tax free

Mr Madigan said daily allowances and living allowances paid to cast and crew had been tax free in the country for at least 25 years.

The tax was not applied to recent high-profile productions such as Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The bill affects local production crews and actors plus international actors - including Cruise - but not international crew members.

More than 200 New Zealand people on the production crew receive hundreds of dollars each a week in allowances.

The Inland Revenue has refused to comment on the Samurai film, but said it was "working through tax issues".

Jane Wrightson, head of the Screen Production and Development Association, said the new tax regime would have an inflationary impact on future film budgets.

In the film, Cruise plays a retired US army captain hired by the mid-19th Century Meiji Emperor of Japan to create a modern Japanese army.

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