Justin Trudeau Gives $595 Million Tax Relief to ‘Eligible’ Media

justin trudeau
AP Photo/Martin Mejia

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will extend $595 million in tax relief over a five-year period to news media outlets it defines as “eligible,” according to the Toronto Star.

The tax relief will include tax breaks for consumers who purchase subscriptions from news media outlets, refundable tax credits for news media outlets’ operational costs, and the extension of charitable status to non-profit news media organizations; registered charities with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can issue charitable receipts to donors and benefactors for donations.

Eligibility will be determined by the government and government-established panels. Details regarding such determinations were not provided.

Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau said, “We’ve made some investments to ensure that we continue that we have an important free press to ensure that we have a strong and healthy democracy. … To protect the vital role that independent news media play in our democracy and in our communities, we will be introducing measures to help support journalism in Canada.”

The Canadian government offered the following details of its proposal:

  • A temporary, non-refundable 15 per cent tax credit for qualifying subscribers of eligible digital news media, meant to help support digital news organizations in achieving a “more financially sustainable business model.”
  • A new category of “qualified donee” for non-profit journalism organizations. This will allow these organizations to issue receipts for donations from both individuals and corporations. And it will open the door for foundations to provide financial support. This measure builds on a pledge in the 2018 budget to explore new models to enable private giving and philanthropic support for journalism.
  • A refundable tax credit for qualifying news organizations that “produce a wide variety of news and information of interest to Canadians. The tax credit will apply to the labour costs associated with producing original content and will be open to both non-profit and for-profit news organizations. The measure will allow outlets to claim a portion of their labour costs. An independent panel drawn from the news industry will be established to define eligibility of the measure, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Various political and news media figures described the measure as corrupt.

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