Canada, Film Financing and Television Programming: A Taxation Guide

Canada, Film Financing and Television Programming

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The Canadian film and television production industry is a vibrant industry that has flourished since the early 1980s when a combination of factors brought more talent into the industry; more investment by private investors, governments and financial institutions; and more foreign productions to Canada. The cheaper Canadian dollar attracted foreign producers, especially U.S. studios, independents and broadcasters. As a result, a large talent pool has developed and excellent facilities have been built and continue to be enhanced. Canadian sites have often been referred to as “Hollywood North.”
The Canadian film and television production industry recorded a production volume of CA $5.86 billion in 2014. The provinces of Ontario and British Columbia boast the largest North American film production centers outside of Los Angeles and New York, each with over $1 billion in production volume. The province of Québec has a strong French-language film and television production industry. The Canadian film and television production sector is the largest contributor to production volume at $2.67 billion. Foreign location and service production is the second-largest key sector with a production volume of $1.83 billion.
These production levels are possible through the tremendous advantages provided by tax incentives, as well as government support through loans, grants, equity investment and pools of funds investing in development and distribution. In addition, there are now corporate funding and industry association funding, including the Canada Media Fund.
The Canadian film and television industry had a kick-start in the 1970s and 1980s with financing made available from tax shelter syndications sold to passive individual investors. These were phased out in favor of refundable tax credits, starting in 1995 with the introduction of the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC) that benefits Canadian-owned and produced film and television productions. In 1997 the Federal Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit (PSTC) was announced.
The provinces and territories followed suit, providing tax credits and other subsidies such as production incentives for both certified film and television as well as production services, with respect to qualifying labor expenditures made in their province. Some also offer incentives for interactive digital media products. While the Federal tax credits have remained stable, several provinces have decreased their film and television financing, moving from a refundable tax credit system to a production incentive resulting in lowering production volume in these jurisdictions.
International treaty co-productions allow Canadian producers to partner with foreign production companies from 54 countries, the latest treaty being with India. Across Canada, many producers and distributors are publicly listed companies and several have merged to create fully integrated entertainment companies, providing the opportunity to raise a significant amount of capital to invest in film properties, equipment, and related business ventures, including interactive technology, broadcast assets, and other new forms of media and entertainment.

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