Refundable Tax Credit to Support News Organizations
This year, the federal government introduced a new refundable tax credit for qualifying news organizations. The new measure aims to support Canadian news organizations that produce a wide variety of news and information of interest to Canadians.
The refundable credit will support labour costs associated with producing original news content and will generally be available to both non-profit and for-profit news organizations.
The 25-per-cent refundable tax credit on salary or wages is paid to eligible newsroom employees of qualified Canadian journalism organizations. This will be subject to a cap on labour costs of $55,000 per eligible newsroom employee per year, which will provide a maximum tax credit in respect of eligible labour costs per individual per year of $13,750. To qualify for this credit, a QCJO must be a corporation, partnership or trust primarily engaged in the production of original written news content. A QCJO carrying on a broadcasting undertaking (as defined in the Broadcasting Act) will not qualify for this credit. A QCJO will also not qualify for this credit in a taxation year if it receives funding from the Aid to Publishers component of the Canada Periodical Fund in that taxation year.
A QCJO that is a corporation will be required to meet the following additional requirements in order to qualify:
- if it is a public corporation, it must be listed on a stock exchange in Canada and not be controlled by non-Canadian citizens; and
- if it is a private corporation, it must be at least 75-per-cent owned by Canadian citizens or by public corporations described above.
As noted above, an independent panel will be established to consider eligibility criteria for purposes of this measure. Initially, an eligible newsroom employee will generally be an employee of a QCJO who works for a minimum of 26 hours per week, on average, and is employed by the QCJO (or is expected to be employed) for at least 40 consecutive weeks. In addition, an eligible newsroom employee will be required to spend at least 75 per cent of their time engaged in the production of news content, including by researching, collecting information, verifying facts, photographing, writing, editing, designing and otherwise preparing content. These rules will be amended if necessary, pending the work completed by the independent panel.
Eligible expenses will include salary or wages paid to eligible newsroom employees in respect of a taxation year and will be reduced by the amount of any government or other assistance received by the QCJO in the taxation year. In addition, salary or wages will be eligible expenses of an organization only if they are in respect of a period throughout which it is a QCJO.
A registered journalism organization, which will be exempt from income tax, may also be entitled to this refundable tax credit in respect of its eligible expenses.
This measure will apply to salary or wages earned in respect of a period on or after January 1, 2019. The administrative body will be able to recognize organizations as of that date, in order to ensure the credit is available as intended.