Saskatchewan producers continue to decry new tax credit

SMPIA president Ron Goetz talks to Playback about the FTDC and the future of the province's industry.
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The Saskatchewan film and TV industry shows few signs of changing its position on the provincial government’s new Film/TV and Digital Tax Credit (FTDC).

When the non-refundable incentive was unveiled last Friday by Saskatchewan Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Bill Hutchinson, it was met with instant criticism from the province’s producers, who say a non-refundable model simply “won’t work.”

As previously reported, the existing tax credit, set to expire June 30, offers a 45% refundable tax credit, a model that Hutchinson said in a statement “was not serving to develop a strong film industry in Saskatchewan and came at a high cost to taxpayers.”

Meanwhile, the new FTDC offers a non-refundable tax credit of 25% on all production expenses, with bonuses for things such as homegrown copyright creation, which bring the credit’s value to 43%.

But industry insiders say this model hurts them because they don’t generate enough profit to take advantage of the credit, and it’s not as bankable as a refundable tax credit, which will make funding productions increasingly difficult.

SMPIA president Ron Goetz adds that there are other flaws with the credit that need to be investigated.

“If we do a tax credit Saskatchewan style, we may not be able to use the federal tax credit, because it’s based on projects likely having to be put through a parent company rather than a single-purchase company,” he tells Playback Daily.

Goetz adds that the recently released cost estimates from the provincial government are also cause for concern.

“Minister [Hutchinson] talked about a cost to taxpayers of about $1 million annually, based on this type of tax credit,” he says.

“We’re questioning that number because it would mean that the profits from the production companies and single-purchase companies would have to be pretty extensive to even be able to get to $1 million,” he insists.

Though he was not at liberty to share details of how the industry plans to work with the government in the coming days and weeks, he said that announcements will be made as early as today (May 10).

He did say that any changes will likely have to come from the government’s side.

“If their position is simply non-refundable and there’s no room beyond that, I’m not sure where we’d go from there,” he says.

Despite his criticisms of the FTDC, however, Goetz says he believes a solution can be found.

“I’ve just got to trust the Premier’s word about the film industry being something that he supports, and that he himself will try to make work, and that he’ll be able to convince his colleagues, and they’ll come up with a plan that keeps us in business in Saskatchewan and the rest of the industry and the world,” he says.