Thursday, 9 April 2015

Hollywood Babble On & On #1225: Farewell To Nova Scotia?

The Finance Minister of Nova Scotia is planning to slash the payroll tax credit for film and television jobs by about 75%. Local producers naturally object to this, because it burdens them with extra costs, and even American rapper Snoop Dogg declared his support for the tax credit because it makes his favourite show, Netflix's The Trailer Park Boys, possible.

Now you're probably wondering what all the fooferall is about, so I'll do a little explaining.

A little over 20 years ago the Nova Scotia government instituted what's called a payroll tax credit program for film and television productions that shoot in Nova Scotia and employ Nova Scotians. At the time, there was about $6 million a year spent in film/TV production in Nova Scotia, but it has grown to about $130-$140 million a year.

That's a lot of jobs created by taxpaying companies, and held by taxpaying citizens.

That's not counting the secondary and tertiary jobs created by the spending of those same taxpaying citizens. Usually an industry creates between 2-3 secondary and tertiary jobs for for every one of their jobs.

That's a lot of jobs that otherwise wouldn't exist.

I'm betting that the Nova Scotia government breaks even on the income taxes at the very least, but more likely turns a profit when all the numbers are crunched.

And dropping the tax credit would be really stupid since without it the province would probably lose Tom Selleck's freshly revived Jesse Stone TV movie franchise, The Trailer Park Boys, and CBC's flagship political satire series This Hour Has 22 Minutes. For many productions the credit makes Nova Scotia affordable, and in many cases possible. 

Now you're probably wondering why I'm defending what many see as a government subsidy, since I regularly state my opposition to government subsidies in the film business.

Well, it's not a subsidy when you look at the facts, and it's not run like a subsidy.

You see, the tax credit is basically a refund of all or some of the payroll taxes employers in film and TV would normally have to pay the government for the privilege of employing Nova Scotians.

That's right, the payroll tax is a tax on anyone who is creating taxpaying jobs.

That's a stupid tax.

It's also not handled like a normal film subsidy. You don't have to go to a funding agency and kiss the ass of bureaucrats in Toronto to prove your worthiness of taxpayer's money by employing the same-old same-old pack of cronies you see in 90% of Canadian productions. All you had to do for the tax credit was prove that you were making film and television programming that was shooting in Nova Scotia, and that you were employing Nova Scotian taxpayers.

Then you didn't get a subsidy, you got relief from a stupid and counterproductive tax regime.

And let's not forget that it's not just foreign productions shooting on location getting these benefits, there's also a hell of a lot of 100% homegrown work that wouldn't otherwise exist without it.

So save the tax credit and save Nova Scotia's fledgeling industry. A quick way to make your voice heard is via social media, like Twitter, so let the Nova Scotia Finance Minister know what you think.

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