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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Spiller

Canadian Film Incentives Explained

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Canadian film incentives are designed to attract film and television productions to Canada. They offer financial benefits to both domestic and international productions. These incentives can come in the form of tax credits, grants, and other subsidies provided by federal, provincial, and territorial governments. Here's an overview of how these incentives generally work:


Federal Incentives


1.         Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC):

•      Eligibility: Available to Canadian-controlled production companies.

•      Benefit: Provides a refundable tax credit of up to 25% of qualified labor expenditures.

•      Requirements: Productions must meet Canadian content requirements, including a certain percentage of Canadian personnel involved in key creative positions.

2.         Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit (PSTC):

•      Eligibility: Available to both Canadian and foreign-controlled production companies.

•      Benefit: Provides a refundable tax credit of 16% of qualified Canadian labor expenditures.

•      Requirements: There are no Canadian content requirements for this credit.


Provincial and Territorial Incentives


Each province and territory in Canada offers its own set of incentives, which can vary significantly. Here are some examples:

1.       Ontario:

•   Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit (OFTTC): A refundable tax credit of up to 35% on eligible Ontario labor expenditures for Canadian productions.

•   Ontario Production Services Tax Credit (OPSTC): A refundable tax credit of 21.5% on all qualifying production expenditures in Ontario for domestic and foreign productions.

•   Ontario Computer Animation and Special Effects Tax Credit (OCASE): A refundable tax credit of 18% on eligible labor expenditures for digital animation and visual effects.

2.       British Columbia:

•   Film Incentive BC (FIBC): A refundable tax credit for Canadian-controlled production companies, providing up to 35% on eligible British Columbia labor expenditures.

•   Production Services Tax Credit (PSTC): A refundable tax credit of 28% on eligible British Columbia labor expenditures for both Canadian and foreign productions.

•   Digital Animation or Visual Effects (DAVE) Tax Credit: An additional 16% credit on eligible labor expenditures for digital animation, visual effects, and post-production.

3.       Quebec:

•   Refundable Tax Credit for Quebec Film and Television Productions: Provides up to 40% on labor expenditures for Quebec productions.

•   Refundable Tax Credit for Film Production Services: Offers a base rate of 20% on all expenditures, plus an additional 16% on labor expenditures for digital special effects and computer animation.


Application Process


1.         Pre-Production:

•   Eligibility Check: Production companies must ensure they meet the specific requirements for each incentive.

•   Application Submission: Companies typically submit detailed applications outlining the project, budget, and intended use of funds.

2.         During Production:

•   Compliance: Productions must maintain records of expenses and ensure they meet ongoing requirements, such as employing local labor.

3.         Post-Production:

•   Final Submission: After completion, companies submit final reports and financial statements to claim the incentives.

•   Review and Approval: Government agencies review submissions and, if approved, disburse the funds.


Benefits of Canadian Film Incentives

·   Financial Savings: Significant reduction in production costs through refundable tax credits and grants.

·   Skilled Workforce: Access to a highly skilled local workforce and state-of-the-art production facilities.

·   Diverse Locations: Canada offers a wide range of filming locations, from urban centers to rural landscapes.



·   Compliance: Strict adherence to the rules and regulations governing each incentive program is necessary.

·   Documentation: Meticulous record-keeping and reporting are required to ensure eligibility and receive benefits.

· Changes in Policy: Incentives can change based on government policy, so staying updated with current regulations is crucial.


Overall, Canadian film incentives are a powerful tool for reducing production costs and fostering a thriving film and television industry in Canada.

Spiller Law is an advisor to startup businesses, entertainment and media companies, and artists. Feel free to schedule a free consultation.


Spiller Law is a San Francisco business, entertainment, and estate planning law firm. We serve clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, and California. Feel free to arrange a free consultation using the Schedule Appointment link on our website. For other questions, call our offices at 415-991-7298.


The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers are advised to consult with their legal counsel for specific advice.


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