April 1, 2015 12:07 pm
Updated: April 1, 2015 4:49 pm

Axing film tax credit in N.S. budget would put jobs at risk: industry group

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HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s 2015 provincial budget is set to be unveiled next week and the potential removal of the film industry tax credit isn’t sitting well with some people who work in the industry.

Finance Minister Diana Whalen has already warned that the budget will be significant for the province, and many expect it will include several cuts along with the removal of some tax credits.

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The uncertainty has filmmakers and others on high alert, despite the government’s pledge to extend the film and TV tax credit program for at least five more years.

“The finance minister made it clear to us that, despite previous promises to maintain the program, changes are coming,” said Screen Nova Scotia Chair Marc Almon in a press release.

Screen Nova Scotia represents people who work in film, television and digital media. Its numbers show that when the incentive program was introduced to Nova Scotia in 1993, the economic activity of the film and television industry was estimated to be $6 million dollars.

Through the tax credit program, the province invests about $25 million per year in the screen industries, which Screen Nova Scotia said now have annual economic spin-offs totalling $139 million.

“More than 2,000 Nova Scotians work in the industry. They create high-quality film, television and digital media projects that are exported all over the world,” Almon said. “Those individuals and the companies they work for all pay taxes here. Many of those jobs could be in jeopardy.

“We can only hope that common sense prevails in the days leading up to the budget.”

A government spokesperson could not confirm to Global News whether the film inudstry tax credit would be cut in the upcoming budget..

Darcy MacRae, a communications advisor for the Finance and Treasury Board said the credit “costs taxpayers more than $25 million per year and 99 per cent of funds from this tax credit are being paid directly to companies that don’t owe taxes in Nova Scotia.”

MacRae said 55 tax credits were issued under the program in 2014 for a total of $26.8 million. The credit allows taxpayers pay up to 65 per cent of the eligible salaries for film and television projects, while payroll rebates for other industries cover 8-to-10 per cent of eligible salaries.

Last year, 23 of the productions that received the film industry tax credit did not conduct any filming in Nova Scotia, according to MacRae. He said they were predominantly documentaries and the total value of the tax credit for them was $4.7 million.

Screen Nova Scotia said there are 105 companies registered in Nova Scotia whose principal business is the production and/or support of film and television, and 18 additional companies specialize in digital media.

More than 50 documentary, film and television projects have been completed recently with the assistance of the film industry tax credit, including Book Of Negroes, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Mr. D., Heartbeat, Inspector Gadget, The Trailer Park Boys, Haven, Forgive Me, Relative Happiness, Hope for Wildlife, Call Me Fitz, and Lizzie Borden.

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