The suggestion made earlier this week that the Nova Scotia Film Industry Tax Credit could be cut in the upcoming provincial budget has raised the ire of many in the province's film industry.
Screen Nova Scotia, a group representing workers in film, television and digital media is making an urgent appeal to Premier Stephen McNeil to stop, what it's calling, "further distribution of misleading information pertaining to Nova Scotia's Film Tax Credit Program."
The group says Finance Minister Diana Whalen's statement that 99 per cent of funds from this $25-million per year tax credit are being paid to companies "that don't owe taxes" in Nova Scotia is a "gross distortion of how the program works, and is doing direct damage to the reputation and viability of the province's screen industries."
Whalen's statement 'doing direct damage'
Screen Nova Scotia says Whalen's statement "is doing direct damage to the reputation and viability of the province's screen industries."
A spokesman for Whalen's office said "at this point to say whether or not changes are coming to the Film Industry Tax Credit, as it is a budget item and the 2015-16 provincial budget has not yet been released."
The budget will be tabled on Thursday.
Eligible films can get up to 65 per cent of their labour costs covered by the tax credit.
According to Screen Nova Scotia, more than 50 documentary, film and television projects have been completed recently with the assistance of the tax credit, including the internationally-renowned 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.
Screen Nova Scotia says film, television and media companies are managed by "single purpose companies" set up for a particular production. The group says, often these companies just break even.
"Therefore, when the production is completed and the company files its tax return and claims its tax credit, it owes no corporate tax. It has, however, paid payroll taxes and HST, and engaged hundreds of Nova Scotians and dozens of Nova Scotia companies that pay taxes," says Screen Nova Scotia in a news release.
"Just as important, the film and television productions are owned by a permanent Nova Scotian 'parent company' that pays taxes like any other corporation. Millions of dollars in tax revenues are generated every year by film, television and digital media production."
Nova Scotia icons, the Trailer Park Boys launched a video in support of the tax credit that has gone viral with more than 375,000 views in less than 24 hours.