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Ontario hikes showbiz tax credit

Province extends credit for foreign filmmakers

Ontario is playing catch up with Quebec.

Canuck province is extending its 25% film and TV production services tax credit for foreign filmmakers beyond labor costs to all qualifying costs, including the purchase and rental of properties such as equipment and studios.

This puts the province on an equal footing with Quebec, which hiked its film and TV credit June 12.

The measures, announced June 30, will take effect for expenditures incurred by qualifying production companies after July 1.

The news is welcome relief to Ontario’s 25,000-plus industry workers, on edge due to the roller-coaster Canuck dollar and ever-increasing competition from locations on both sides of the Canadian border.

“Ever since Quebec made its announcement we have been in meetings with Ontario’s finance department going through the business case for doing this,” said Brian Topp, co-chair of industry consortium FilmOntario and exec director of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists.

He said Quebec’s move had contributed to a $200 million loss in business in Ontario’s film and TV sector this quarter.

“The matching credit completely changes the picture,” Topp said. “It’s nothing but good news for everyone in the industry here.”

The newly dubbed Pinewood Toronto Studios (formerly FilmPort) is already feeling the benefit.

“A few days ago some of our clients were not going to bring their projects to Toronto and today my phone’s been ringing off the hook,” said managing director Edith Myers. “Now a number of prospective clients are looking to come here and one has even confirmed.

“It’s important people understand the attraction of Ontario, particularly Toronto, is more than just money. It’s about world-class services and facilities.”

Meanwhile, the Puerto Rico Film Commission has extended Law 362, which grants a 40% tax credit to productions that film there, to 2019.

The credit is based on local expenditures. Only projects that shoot more than 50% of principal photography there or spend more than $1 million qualify.

The law also allows the Film Commission to reserve the credit at the moment the film license is certified by the Department of Treasury. Recent shoots on the island include “The Men Who Stare at Goats” and “The Rum Diaries.”

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