BC Finance Minister Announces Extension of Tax Credit

Since the release of the Film and Television Industry Review report conducted by InterVISTAS and released in early 2005, it was anticipated that the BC film and television tax credits, once it expired at the end of March 2006, would not be extended.  The 2005 report indicated that the government was losing a significant amount of revenue as a result of offering these credits.  This prompted a dialogue between government officials and film industry supporters.  The government was concerned that it could no longer justify offering the credits based on the reported loss in revenue.  Industry proponents countered the report, however, arguing profusely that the indirect benefits far outweighed the seemingly low direct returns on the government investments.

The Finance Minister, Carole Taylor, obviously heard the industries arguments and responded positively in her announcement that the government would extend domestic and foreign location tax credits, valued respectively at 18% and 30% of eligible labor costs, until 2008.  Although the Minister acknowledged that there was a clear competitive advantage to offering the credits, she also emphasized the need for the industry to increase the attractiveness of filming in BC by exploiting other benefits like local expertise and landscaping. 

The announcement has kept the door open for domestic and foreign location productions to continue taking advantage of the BC film tax incentives for at least another two years.  However, it is likely that when this issue is revisited in 2008 industry players will have an increased challenge of trying to justify the industry’s reliance on these credits.  At that point, if they are unable to justify the necessity of these credits, we can expect to see lights out, or at least a dimming of the lights, on the BC film industry.

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2006 International Film and Video Tax Incentives (Federal)

Often local film producers are confronted with financial limitations that may force them to look to other jurisdictions that provide attractive financial incentives to offset the cost burdens of a particular production.  Popular incentives are often tax driven.  Below is a list of International Film and Video Tax Incentives that may be helpful in deciding which location would provide the best tax advantage for a foreign location production.


Description of Tax Incentive


12.5% refundable tax credit based on qualifying Australian production expenditures.  100% capital cost allowance deduction.


25% film or video production tax credit directed at Canadian owned productions and a 16% foreign location production tax credit.


5% tax credit for expenses related to a locally funded production valued at a minimum F$250,000, which must be at least 35% of the budget.


20% tax credit based on production expenditures.


100% tax deduction based on investment.


18% tax credit on Irish expenditures and a 80% capital cost allowance deduction.


30% tax deduction


100% tax shelter deduction.

United Kingdom

20% tax credit accessed through sale-leaseback structure.  100% of a UK film’s budget worth approximately 20% of production costs. 

United States

Tax-free write-off of expenses related to domestic productions valued under $15 million.  9% deduction for expenses related to domestic productions to a maximum of 50% of wage expenditures.

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British Columbia Government Threatens to Eliminate Film and Television Tax Credits

In March 2005, the British Columbia government commissioned a report to determine the impact of the provincial Film and Television Production tax credits on government expenditures and the economy.  It is entitled, Film and Television Industry Review and was completed by InterVISTAS Consulting.  The final result of the report was a recommendation that the government should either reduce the value of the incentive or eliminate it completely. The report finds that BC is paying more to administer the credit than it is recovering in taxable revenue generated by production activity in the province.

Essentially, the government's concern is that taxpayers are on the hook for whatever the government does not recover because the money must come from other spending programs or through increased taxation.  The stakeholders, however, criticize the report and the government for appearing to give minimal weight to the indirect benefit that other industries such as hotels, local convenience stores, catering businesses and other service companies obtain from having films produced locally.  Also, considering the current level of competition for film production business coming from other provinces, various states in the US and internationally, opponents believe it is unwise for the government to take this course of action.  In Playback Magazine, Editor Mark Dillon in his comment entitled, Cutting B.C. tax credits is suicide, says … "To mess with the tax credits now would be devastating for the local industry".  According to Dillon, it does not seem logical that at a time when the Canadian dollar is so low that the government would even consider changing its tax policy in a way that would adversely affect an already struggling industry.

The BC government has committed to factoring the results of this report into its decision about whether or not to continue offering the film tax credits as they currently exist.  It is likely that unless the stakeholders involved can justify the existence of the credits at the current level that the province will make some changes.  Unfortunately, what it is going to come down to is the bottom line.  How much tax revenue is the BC government able to attribute to the presence of these productions within its borders? And how much longer can they sustain tax revenue shortfalls at the expense of the average taxpayer in order to benefit the film industry?  If any changes must be made, any fiscally responsible government would not do a cold turkey amendment.  Instead, a phased in approach would likely give some comfort to producers with productions currently planned to be filmed in BC and will also allow others to find alternative ways of making production seem more attractive in BC.

No one likes change, but sometimes change is necessary.  What the BC government needs to really consider is what type of changes would benefit it’s citizens and it's businesses the most.  This requires canvassing the tax and non-tax advantages and disadvantages of the current film tax credit.

Copyright © 2006