Nova Scotia sweetens tax credit pot

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TORONTO -- The Nova Scotia provincial government pledged a major increase in its production tax credit -- from 35% to 50% -- as the provinces Atlantic Film Festival kicked off Thursday night.

"Nova Scotia will have the most aggressive film tax credit in the country," provincial premier Rodney MacDonald told festival attendees as the fest kicked off with a gala screening of Roger Spottiswoode's "Shake Hands With the Devil."

"We realize that a healthy and vibrant film industry contributes to our overall economic growth, and that the province needs to play its part to ensure that growth continues," he added.

For films lensed outside Halifax, the tax credit rises from 55% to 60%. And Nova Scotia will tack on an additional 5% credit if producers shoot three films anywhere in the province over a two-year period, bringing a potential 65% tax credit windfall.

The Atlantic province first launched its tax credit for local and foreign producers in 1995. In March 2005, the province hiked its film tax credit from 30% to 35% for foreign shoots in Halifax and 40% for projects shot outside Halifax.

That move follows similar tax credit increases in rival Canadian provinces looking to keep Los Angeles producers shooting here rather than in rival locales like southern U.S. states and Eastern Europe.

Ann McKenzie, CEO of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corp., which oversees the province's tax credit program, said the Canadian dollar increasing strength against the U.S. greenback led the province to yet again sweeten the pot for producers.

"A number of factors are coming into play this year, including a short ACTRA strike, a stronger Canadian dollar and more attractive incentives in other jurisdictions," McKenzie said.

The Atlantic Film Festival runs through Sept. 22.
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