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Quebec Oks break for foreign prod’n

Tax-rebate to benefit non-canadian prods

MONTREAL — The Quebec government has introduced a refundable tax credit for non-Canadian film and television productions in a bid to attract more foreign producers to the province. The new program was announced by Quebec Finance Minister Bernard Landry in his budget Tuesday afternoon in the National Assembly in Quebec City. Last month, Landry had made it clear his government was in favor of such a program.

Non-Canadian producers shooting in the province will be eligible for a tax rebate of 11% on labor expenditures, and the government estimates that the credit will average around 5.5% of the total production budget. The new program is similar to schemes set up last year by the federal and Ontario governments. Producers lensing in Quebec will be able to apply for both the Quebec and the federal tax credit, which is also 5.5% of the budget, giving producers access to savings of roughly 11% of the budget via the two programs. The Quebec measures are retroactive to Feb. 12.

The provincial government also unveiled a tax credit for labor expenditures on special-effects and computer-generated animation, if the producers do the high-tech work with Quebec firms. With the special-effects credit, foreign productions could potentially have access to a 15% reduction in overall budget thanks to the credits. The program will be administered by Quebec cultural development agency SODEC, and SODEC president Pierre Lampron said the new initiative was essential to support the current production boom in Montreal.

“It’s simply to maintain a competitive position with other governments, most notably Ontario,” said Lampron. “I believe the measures show that foreign production has become more of a priority at SODEC. We will be a lot more aggressive in the future.”

In this week’s British Columbia budget speech, the West Coast provincial government promised to inaugurate a similar tax credit program for foreign producers in the near future.

The tax credit scheme will help sell Montreal to non-Canadian producers, added Montreal film commissioner Andre Lafond.

“With the tax credit, plus the exchange rate and the low cost of living in Montreal, it suddenly becomes quite an attractive package,” said Lafond. “If we didn’t have this tax credit, we would’ve lost a lot of projects.”

Foreign producers spent C$130 million ($91 million) in Montreal last year and Lafond expects the non-Canadian total to rise to C$200 million ($140 million) this year.

Quebec already has a tax-credit program for Quebec-based producers that allows them to deduct up to 15% from budget expenses for English-language pics and TV shows and up to 20% for French-language projects. The Quebec government doled out $49 million in homegrown tax credits last year.

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