British Columbia, Saskatchewan rethink tax credit structures

Two Canuck provinces are rethinking their support for film and TV productions.

The government of Saskatchewan is ending its Film Employment Tax Credit program as part of the latest attempt to balance the budget. Many industryites fear the move could shut down production in the province entirely.

“Quite frankly, without the tax incentive, the province will be seen as an irrelevant location, and production will not take place,” said Vanessa Bonk, exec director of the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Industry Assn.

Up to now, Saskatchewan’s tax credit was one of the most competitive incentive programs, offering a credit of up to 55% of eligible labor costs. Popular sitcoms like “Corner Gas” and “Little Mosque on the Prairie” are among productions made with the help of the credit.

According to finance minister Ken Krawetz, the cut will create an annual saving of roughly $8 million.

Pics already approved for the tax credit will be able to finish production.

Meanwhile, British Columbia is phasing out the harmonized sales tax (HST) by April 1, 2013, leaving the province’s film industry under pressure — particularly after it lost out to Ontario in production income in 2011. B.C. raked in $1.19 billion compared to Ontario’s $1.27 billion.

The HST combines the 7% provincial sales tax (PST) with the 5% goods and services sales tax (GST) levied by the federal government.

Reclassifying the B.C. film and TV industry as a manufacturer would help the province keep its competitive edge as manufacturers are exempt from the PST. Ontario already refunds the PST to filmmakers.

“We are a manufacturing process,” said Cheryl Nex, vice chair of B.C.’s Motion Picture Production Industry Assn. “We are just manufacturing something different, something that gets exploited on every single screen media.”

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