Liberals expand payroll tax credit for news publishing in fall economic update

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A federal program allowing news publishers to claim a tax credit for portion of journalists’ salaries is set to increase, the Liberal government announced Tuesday.

The government’s fall economic statement announced an increase to the Canadian Journalism Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit allowing qualifying news outlets to claim up to 35 per cent of up to $85,000 in salary for a qualified employee.

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That’s an increase from the credit’s initial allowance of 25 per cent of up to $55,000 in salary per employee.

First announced in the government’s 2018 fall economic statement and made official in the 2019 federal budget, the tax credit was designed to support print news publishers.

The newly expanded credit will be retroactive to the beginning of 2023, the economic update said. It projects the cost to the federal government will be $129 million over five years.

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Andrew MacLeod, president and chief executive officer of Postmedia Network, Canada’s largest newspaper publisher and owner the National Post among many other titles, said he was pleased with the announcement Tuesday.

“It’s a very difficult and extremely challenging environment, and this is a clear indication from the federal government that they understand that there’s a crisis, and they’re stepping forward with meaningful support,” he said.

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MacLeod expressed gratitude to Canada’s heritage and finance minister as well as the president of the Treasury Board for supporting Canadian journalism.

“While the tax credits are extremely meaningful, the industry and government need to move the conversation to structural reforms, so that the Canadian domestic media industry can compete and architect its own future,” he added.

Only news outlets who meet the government’s conditions of being a “qualified Canadian journalism organization” are eligible for the tax credit. To do so, they must be “engaged in the production of original news content” and “primarily focused on matters of general interest and reports of current events, including coverage of democratic institutions and processes,” according to the current legislation.

Employees whose salaries are eligible under the credit are those who work at least 26 hours per week and devote at least 75 percent of their day-to-day job performing news gathering, reporting, writing or researching.

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