IATSE calls for refundable tax credit in Saskatchewan

"We are prepared to look at other measures to support the industry, but we remain committed to ending the tax grant program," premier Brad Wall told the U.S. union in two-way correspondence.

IATSE has urged Saskatchewan to reintroduce a refundable film tax credit for a two-year trial period, to give the local industry and provincial government time to work out a more permanent solution.

The call, contained in a May 22 letter to provincial premier Brad Wall, comes as the U.S. union adds its voice to the chorus of disapproval over Saskatchewan’s proposed non-refundable tax credit.

“Although it is a step in the right direction, a non-refundable tax credit is ill-suited to deal with the funding structure under which the industry works,” John Lewis, international VP and director of Canadian affairs at IATSE, wrote to Wall after he cancelled a 45% refundable tax credit for local producers.

Lewis told the Saskatchewan leader that film and TV producers need money up front to finance projects, and that banks don’t recognize non-refundable tax credits as collateral for loans.

His comments follow an April 16 letter to Lewis from Wall which, while indicating wiggle-room in current industry-province negotiations, reiterated the end for what the provincial premier deemed a “government grant.”

“We are prepared to look at other measures to support the industry, but we remain committed to ending the tax grant program,” Wall told Lewis.

The premier said the former Saskatchewan Film and Employment Tax Credit was unfair to other provincial sectors.

“Oil gets no subsidy. Potash companies receive a temporary decrease in royalties during major capital expansions like the construction of a new mine,” Wall wrote in his letter to IATSE.

“On the other hand, 98 percent of SFETC money paid was in the form of a grant, often to companies that set up temporarily in Saskatchewan, while only two percent was an actual credit against taxes paid in the province,” he continued.

Wall concluded that a non-refundable tax credit will increase the taxes paid by film and TV producers in the province, and so would prove fairer to local taxpayers.

The Writers Guild of Canada, in its own May 23 letter to Wall that was made public Wednesday, echoed the IATSE in arguing the proposed non-refundable tax credit was “unlikely to be accessible to any producer in Saskatchewan.”