Report recommends Quebec phase out film/TV tax credit

Montreal City Hall on Notre Dame Street East appears in a scene from 'X-Men: Days of Future Past.'. YouTube

TORONTO — Last week’s Godbout Commission report sent shivers up the spines of Quebec’s film and television production industry.

The Quebec Taxation Review Committee, chaired by economist Luc Godbout, recommended phasing out the Quebec Production Services Tax Credit beginning in 2020.

Currently, Quebec offers 20 per cent rebates on all expenses incurred in the province. An additional 16 per cent credit is provided for digital effects and computer animation work done in Quebec.

Combined with federal tax breaks of up to 16 per cent — and a typically favourable exchange rate — Quebec is a fairly desirable destination for Hollywood films and TV shows.

In 2013-2014, the province had eight per cent of the total foreign film and TV production in Canada (well behind B.C. and Ontario, which claimed 59 per cent and 28 per cent respectively).

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Big budget films shot in Montreal include X-Men: Days of Future Past, 300, Mirror Mirror and Immortals.

Cameras will soon roll on X-Men: Apocalypse and The History of Love in Montreal. German director Roland Emmerich — who made 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow and 2013’s White House Down in Montreal — is expected to shoot part of Independence Day 2 in the city.

Last summer, Emmerich filmed the drama Stonewall in Montreal, even though the story takes place in New York City.

“I said, ‘Guys, let’s go to Canada, let’s get big tax rebates,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

The upcoming Pawn Sacrifice, starring Tobey Maguire, and The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, were shot in Montreal last year.

Most of Quebec’s movie production is done on the soundstages of La Cité du Cinéma.

TV series made in Quebec include Helix, 19-2, Being Human and Blue Mountain State.

Quebec’s visual effects community also benefits from the provincial tax credits. This year’s Best Picture winner at the Oscars, Birdman, was made to look like it was filmed in one continuous shot thanks to a team at Montreal’s Rodeo FX.

The company has also done effects for Cinderella, Furious 7, Unbroken and the upcoming Tomorrowland.

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Though the Godbout Commission recommendations are non-binding, if Quebec gets rid of its tax perks for foreign producers, neighbouring Ontario could benefit. The province offers credits of up to 25 per cent.

Last year, Ontario hosted 56 foreign film and television projects that spent an estimated $504 million (domestic production accounted for another $790 million).

British Columbia is predicting 2015 will be the best year ever for film and TV production.

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