Film and Television Tax Credits: Big Business and Critical to Entertainment Industry Labor

By Sazer, Marc | International Musician, February 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Film and Television Tax Credits: Big Business and Critical to Entertainment Industry Labor


Sazer, Marc, International Musician


Beginning in 1995 with a federal tax credit program, and followed soon after by provincial tax credit programs, Canada began investing in both creating a domestic film industry, and luring production jobs from elsewhere to Canada. Producers quickly followed the money.

Providing taxpayer funds for motion picture and television production has now become a worldwide phenomenon. The payroll company Entertainment Partners provides financial services to companies that exploit these incentives. Their website, www. epfinancialsolutions.com, gives a good overview of the scores of governments that provide incentives. We are in the midst of an international arms race for film/television tax credits.

These incentives rarely create new jobs for movies or television shows-they move jobs from one place to another. When a studio based in Burbank, Culver City, or Hollywood produces a movie with tax incentives in London, new jobs aren't created, they've just been moved, displacing the vast majority of workers, including grips, drivers, camera operators, carpenters, and many others.

Music scoring has fallen into this same "arms race" of tax credits. While London has long had a vibrant recording industry, dozens of motion pictures produced by US companies take their scoring projects there now, reaping generous tax dollars (as well as avoiding the obligation to make health care and pension contributions that would be due on behalf of AFM musicians). The AFM remains number one in terms of motion picture film scores in the Western world, but the UK has lured an increasing number of "our" jobs to London. …

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