Manitoba ups ante for tax rebates

Potential rebate for labor expenditures of 55% in future

TORONTO — Following closely on the heels of four other provinces, the prairie province of Manitoba has leap-frogged over the rest to offer the most generous film and TV tax credits in Canada.

“We are in a highly competitive production market that knows no boundaries and is expanding rapidly,” said Carole Vivier, CEO and film commissioner of Manitoba Film & Sound, the province’s industry advocate. “We have an extremely mobile client base and we know it’s critical to maintain the advantage we’ve had in bringing over C$100 million ($83 million) a year to our province.”

The provincial government has upped the tax credit to 45% from 35%. There is also a 5% “frequent filming bonus,” introduced a year ago, and producers willing to shoot outside the provincial capital of Winnipeg can receive an additional rural bonus of another 5%.

The credits and bonuses add up to a potential total rebate for Manitoba labor expenditures of 55%. The nearest Canadian competitors are the provinces of Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, whose rebates all top out at 40%.

Provincial one-upmanship

“This is just what we need to take us to the next level,” IATSE business agent Joe Laurin said. “Now we can seriously compete shoulder-to-shoulder with larger, more advanced and structured film centers, not only within Canada, but throughout North America and around the world.”

There has been an aggressive trend toward one-upmanship in tax credits in Canada in recent months. Ontario upped its tax credits in December 2004. Quebec and BC followed suit in January 2005, and Nova Scotia raised its credit on March 5.

Since tax credits were introduced in Manitoba in 1997, annual production volumes have increased from $14.4 million to $91.2 million in 2003.

The Jennifer Lopez-Richard Gere pic “Shall We Dance” and cult pic “Hey Happy!” were shot in Manitoba.

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