Increase puts pressure on other provinces

The Quebec government has increased its film and TV tax credit from 25% of labor expenses to 25% of the overall budget of films and TV shows shot in the Canadian province, it was announced Friday.

This effectively doubles the tax credit, since the rule of thumb is that labor accounts for around half of the budget for most films and TV productions.

The increase gives Quebec the most competitive tax credit in Canada and puts pressure on the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia — the other main film centers — to hike their tax credits. Both currently have credits in line with Quebec’s old 25% of labor expenses.

There are no caps on the new Quebec tax credit, meaning it is available for films of any budget.

Also, there is an extra tax credit of 5% for films that do special-effects and/or digital animation work in Quebec.

“The impact is that we’re going to get the volume back to where it should be,” said Quebec film commissioner Hans Fraikin. “It’s going to change the face of our industry, mark my words. It’ll mean hundreds of millions of dollars in economic windfall.”

The provincial government’s bailout couldn’t be more timely. There has been almost no Hollywood shoots in Quebec since “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” filmed briefly in 2007.

Mel Hoppenheim, who owns Mel’s Cite du Cinema, Montreal’s largest film studio, believes the tax-credit hike will change that.

“For me this is the biggest thing the Quebec government has ever done for the film industry,” Hoppenheim said. 

Ken Ferguson, president of Filmport, Toronto’s largest film studio, said Ontario and B.C. will have to look seriously at increasing their credits to compete.

“Quebec’s tax credit being substantially better than Ontario’s will certainly disrupt affairs here,” he said.

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