Panel submits report on tax support for Canadian media

Community News & Features Jul 26, 2019 at 2:22 pm

TORONTO–The Journalism and Written Media Independent Panel of Experts has submitted its final report and recommendations to the Government of Canada to assist with the equitable and effective implementation of tax measures in support of Canadian journalism, as outlined in the 2019 federal budget.

The report provides guidance to determine which journalism organizations qualify for these tax measures, based on criteria outlined in the budget legislation for the program, which is intended to support written news outlets that provide news of general interest to Canadian audiences.

The Panel recognizes that this program is limited in scope, and has also made recommendations for government action that goes beyond the support provided in the budget legislation. The Panel did not have a mandate to change any provisions already passed into law, but was allowed to make further recommendations.

The federal program includes refundable tax credits for qualifying journalism organizations, a non-refundable tax credit for subscriptions to Canadian digital news, and charitable status for not-for-profit journalism organizations.

To be eligible for the program, a news outlet must regularly employ two or more journalists and primarily provide original news content to a general audience.

The Panel did not attempt to develop a definition that could be used to certify officially approved news outlets. Instead, it provided guidelines on what constitutes general news, good journalistic practices and the activities normally carried out by newsroom employees.

It is the opinion of the Panel that this guidance will enable the Minister of National Revenue and the Canada Revenue Agency to implement and administer these tax measures directly, without need of an official body to certify news outlets. However, the Panel also recognizes that there will be questions about whether certain news outlets qualify for the program. Thus, the Panel has recommended, as per the budget legislation, that an advisory body be appointed to provide advice when the Canada Revenue Agency refers questions to it about matters related to journalism.

The Independent Panel consisted of the following members:

• Bob Cox, News Media Canada

• Esther Enkin, Canadian Association of Journalists

• Brad Honywill, Unifor

• Pierre-Paul Noreau, Association de la presse francophone

• Brenda O’Farrell, Quebec Community Newspapers Association

• Thomas Saras, National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada

• Pascale St-Onge, Federation nationale des communications

• Pierre Sormany, Federation professionnelle des journalistes du Quebec