The Coalition for Culture and Media applauds the Quebec government’s decision to update its taxation measures so they apply to foreign companies selling intangible goods and services online. The Quebec government is the first in the country to take a step toward tax fairness in the digital economy by requiring that businesses both here and abroad collect its sales tax (QST) as of January 1, 2019. It goes without saying that the Coalition believes that a good portion of the additional revenue that will be collected by the government should be reinvested in culture and media.
The Coalition’s member organizations expect that all the members of the National Assembly will support the government in this first initiative to adapt the Quebec taxation system to the digital economy. This support would be in line with the unanimous motion adopted last October by the National Assembly in favour of tax fairness for all digital platforms in the wake of Ottawa’s agreement with Netflix.
In response to the tabling of the federal budget, the Coalition for Culture and Media deplores Ottawa’s inaction on the taxation of digital goods and services sold in Canada by foreign companies. The Coalition is all the more disappointed as it has been making appeals on this issue for several months, has collected thousands of signatures in support of said demands, and unfortunately finds itself faced with the government’s complete insensitivity to arguments for tax fairness.
The Coalition, like many players in the Quebec and Canadian economy, finds it inconceivable that the Canadian government should maintain an unfair taxation system that favours foreign companies doing business here using the Internet. This two-tier system exempts these foreign entities from having to collect sales taxes on the goods and services sold here, unlike Quebec and Canadian companies. Federal tax policy needs to be updated to level the playing field for companies competing online.
The Coalition for Culture and Media considers it inconceivable that the Trudeau government – who has been repeating for months that it will not tax Netflix – continues to ignore the amount in lost revenue by not taxing electronic trade.
The Coalition was surprised to learn in La Presse that the government is still not in possession of the financial data calculating the revenue lost annually lost by its decision not to tax products like Netflix or e-commerce platforms such as Amazon. This, despite financial advisor Marwah Rizqy calculating this loss at nearly 40 million dollars per year for Netflix alone, just for the federal government. These colossal sums of money, when combined with the amounts the provinces could collect, would allow to support multiple cultural productions, or even finance social programs.
The organizations making up the Coalition for Culture and Media are pleased with the firm stance taken by the Quebec government as demonstrated by the ministers of Finance and of Culture and Communications, Carlos Leitão and Luc Fortin, who have stated their intention to apply sales tax to the services offered by Netflix. The Coalition believes that Quebec’s efforts to ensure all players are taxed equally will curb unfair competition and restore the trust of taxpayers, corporations and individuals.
The organizations making up the Coalition for Culture and Media have expressed their disappointment concerning the fuzzy logic and inconsistent vision of the Canadian government with respect to its Creative Canada roadmap. At a time when people were looking for concrete answers to pressing questions with regard to the sustainability and promotion of Canadian culture and media in the digital era, the federal government has rolled out a partial and incomplete vision based on a taxation strategy unanimously criticized as unfair.
The newly formed coalition that last week issued a Declaration on the sustainability of cultural expression in the digital era welcomes the statement by the Minister of Culture and Communications, Mr. Luc Fortin, that Quebec could act on its own accord if Ottawa does not intervene to ensure financial and regulatory equity for Canadian and non-Canadian Internet broadcasters.
The organizations that formed the coalition were very pleased that the Minister shares their concerns about the critical importance of fiscal and regulatory fairness between participants in the cultural sector. The coalition shares the Minister’s position that nations must apply a consistent regulatory framework for all parties, including digital multinational corporations.
A large group of cultural organizations for formed a coalition to urge the government to take swift action to solidify the foundation of our cultural and media ecosystem. Citing growing inequality in the communications industry, the coalition behind the “CONTINUITY – FAIRNESS – SUPPORT” declaration has laid out the foundation that should guide new policy development.
“These multinationals, including Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Spotify, offer services that provide access to a multitude of content yet they are not required to comply with the same fiscal, tax and regulatory conditions as companies based in Quebec and the rest of Canada. What’s more, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and electronic hardware manufacturers have access to music, audiovisual productions and digital books without making any financial contributions to the creation of these products from which they profit,” the declaration states.