Now more than ever, a strong and independent news media is crucial to supporting an informed public and a well-functioning democracy.
Last month, the Government of Canada announced action to support the Canadian news and broadcasting sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the establishment of an Advisory Board and its membership to assist the Government in administering the journalism tax measures introduced in Budget 2019.
Today, the Government is releasing draft legislative proposals that would make adjustments to these tax measures to help ensure that they achieve their initial objectives. These changes would:
- Allow news publishers and media organizations that receive support through the ‘Aid to Publishers’ grant of the Canada Periodical Fund to qualify for the Canadian journalism labour tax credit.
- Remove the requirement that qualified Canadian journalism organizations be “primarily” engaged in the production of original news content and not be significantly engaged in the production of content to promote goods or services. Newsroom employees eligible for the labour tax credit would need to spend at least 75 per cent of their time engaged in the production of original written news content.
- Introduce an explicit mechanism for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to revoke a qualified Canadian journalism organization’s designation where it no longer meets the eligibility requirements. The CRA would be required to consider any advice provided by the Advisory Board before revoking an organization’s designation.
- Clarify that only organizations that carry on “licensed” broadcasting undertakings are ineligible for the Canadian journalism labour tax credit.
- Enable the Canadian journalism labour tax credit to be allocated to active members of a qualifying journalism organization that is a partnership.
- Provide that the Canadian labour tax credit be prorated based on the proportion of an organization’s taxation year during which it qualifies as a qualifying journalism organization.
- Enhance transparency by clarifying the CRA’s authority to publish both the names of organizations whose digital news subscriptions are eligible for the subscription tax credit, as well as the qualifying subscriptions they offer, and require organizations to inform subscribers if their subscriptions cease to qualify for the credit.
These changes would apply retroactively to the coming into force dates of each of the journalism tax measures announced in Budget 2019.