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Digital News Subscription Tax Credit
January 25, 2021
9:22 am
gicjunkie
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For those of you who have digital news subscriptions to qualified Canadian journalism publications, for example, The Toronto Star Epaper edition, you are allowed to claim up to a $75.00 tax credit (15% of your digital subscription to a maximum of $500.00) on your 2020 to 2024 income tax returns. If you have a full hardcopy subscription to a paper along with digital access, the digital access portion is an allowable claim amount. Contact the paper to find out how much to claim. There is a place on the UFile tax return to add this 2020 amount paid. It's under "Interview Setup, Other topics, Other deductions and credits. It's not much, but it's there if you are interested.

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/about-your-tax-return/tax-return/completing-a-tax-return/deductions-credits-expenses/deductions-credits-expenses/digital-news-subscription.html

January 25, 2021
10:44 am
Loonie
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Thanks for the reminder. Had forgotten about this.

January 25, 2021
12:10 pm
Bill
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Goes on line 31350 of the return, up to $75 ($500 X 15%) federal credit if you subscribe to gov't approved provider (i.e. gov't will determine who is and who isn't credible provider) of news.

January 26, 2021
5:01 am
canadian.100
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Is there a list somewhere of the Qualified Canadian Journalism Organizations? Did not find it.

January 26, 2021
9:12 am
Bill
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canadian.100, as far as I know La Presse is the only one so far, got designated December 1/20. I'm assuming the rest of the list is likely in the Prime Minister's pocket, he'll release it when he gets around to it, I guess.

This link, Q4, seems to suggest CRA might provide a list at some point:
https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/support-canadian-journalism/frequently-asked-questions.html

January 26, 2021
9:22 am
Doug
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Bill said
canadian.100, as far as I know La Presse is the only one so far, got designated December 1/20. I'm assuming the rest of the list is likely in the Prime Minister's pocket, he'll release it when he gets around to it, I guess.

This link, Q4, seems to suggest CRA might provide a list at some point:
https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/support-canadian-journalism/frequently-asked-questions.html  

This is really not a good system. As far as I know, you can purchase a digital news subscription or sponsorship of hyper-local 100% online digital news outlets like Castanet.net, KelownaNow.com, and paNow.com, and it qualifies.

Essentially, best bet: if the website explicitly states they qualify, then it's safe to claim it. But take a screenshot showing your computer's lock on the screen so you can provide proof to the Canada Revenue Agency that the digital news outlet was claiming they were eligible, so they can either (a) allow your claim or (b) go after the digital news outlet for inappropriately and/or incorrectly claiming they're eligible. sf-cool

Cheers,
Doug

January 26, 2021
9:43 am
Bill
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Doug, option (a) not available, CRA can not allow a claim from an unqualified outlet.

January 26, 2021
10:37 am
Oscar
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I am a faithful viewer of Cable Panic 24 (aka CoronaPanic24, CP24) which is only available with a cable subscription. Is this also deductible ?

January 26, 2021
4:13 pm
Loonie
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Oscar said
I am a faithful viewer of Cable Panic 24 (aka CoronaPanic24, CP24) which is only available with a cable subscription. Is this also deductible ?  

I would say "no".

January 26, 2021
5:31 pm
Bill
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We're talking mainly newspapers, etc that you pay to access digitally: "To qualify for the credit, a digital news subscription must entitle an individual to access content in digital form that is primarily original written news."

January 26, 2021
6:38 pm
Norman1
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Payments to a Qualified Canadian Journalism Organization holding a broadcasting license do not qualify for the tax credit:

Qualifying subscription expense

A qualifying subscription expense is the amount a subscriber paid in the year for a digital news subscription with a QCJO that does not hold a license as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Broadcasting Act. To qualify for the credit, a digital news subscription must entitle an individual to access content in digital form that is primarily original written news.

January 26, 2021
6:57 pm
Loonie
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We asked the newspaper we subscribe to for a breakdown of digital vs print edition costs ,and they said they didn't know and that we should ask an accountant or CRA!

This is a major Canadian newspaper. If they don't know, how would anyone else, even CRA? Sounds like a runaround to me, maybe not worth pursuing.

If any of you are able to get this info from your providers, please post in this thread, so we can all get an idea of the breakdown.

January 26, 2021
7:04 pm
gicjunkie
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From the CRA website:

Q4. Will a list of journalism organizations that have received QCJO designation be made publicly available? If an organization's application is denied, will the reason(s) for that denial be made publicly available?

The confidentiality provisions of the Income Tax Act (Act) prevent the CRA from disclosing the names of organizations that have applied for, received, or been denied QCJO designation. However, under section 241 of the Act, the CRA may release the names of registered journalism organizations (i.e. organizations that qualify for the qualified donee measure), and the names of organizations whose digital subscriptions meet the criteria for the digital news subscription tax credit along with the names of their subscriptions and the publications associated with the subscriptions listed on Canada.ca.

Re Supporting Documents:

4.8. The QCJO that received the payments for a qualifying subscription expense should provide its subscribers with a receipt showing information about the services provided. The receipt should include:

the subscriber’s full name;
the date and amount of the total payment;
the name of the subscription;
the qualifying subscription expense amount;
the QCJO’s name, address and QCJO designation number; and
an authorized signature (unless the receipt is electronically produced).
4.9. Subscribers should keep all their receipts in case the CRA asks to see them at a later date.

I guess you could just phone your digital news supplier and ask for the QCJO designation number and a proper receipt.

January 26, 2021
7:49 pm
Loonie
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If the news organization had to APPLY for this, then one wonders how many of them bothered to do so, given the amount of paper work likely involved.
The benefit to the news organization is at best indirect.

January 27, 2021
7:18 am
Oscar
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Loonie said
If the news organization had to APPLY for this, then one wonders how many of them bothered to do so, given the amount of paper work likely involved.
The benefit to the news organization is at best indirect.  

They just have to fill out this form:
https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/cra-arc/formspubs/pbg/t622/t622-20e.pdf
The 25% wage tax credit is the part that benefits them directly:
https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/businesses/topics/corporations/business-tax-credits/canadian-journalism-labour-tax-credit/guidance.html#h_4
"Don't bite the hand that feeds you" comes to mind here. Good timing too.

January 27, 2021
7:54 am
Bill
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Being able to reduce your customers' cost by 15% vs outlets that gov't does not approve isn't too shabby a competitive advantage.

January 27, 2021
9:02 am
Norman1
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It's not that hard to figure out the amount. The amount will be what one paid for the digital subscription to the content.

If one paid for the higher-priced subscription to the content physically delivered as a printed newspaper, then only what would be charged for digital-only access to the same content is eligible.

This is from Personal income tax: About the digital news subscription tax credit:

How to claim the credit

Individuals who have entered into an agreement with a QCJO for a qualifying subscription that is eligible, can claim the credit on their income tax return for the years 2020 to 2024.

A list of organizations that offer eligible qualifying subscriptions will be posted on Canada.ca.

If the qualifying subscription is eligible and provides access to content in non-digital form or content other than content of the QCJO:

  • only the cost of a stand-alone digital subscription to the content of the QCJO will be an eligible expense; and
  • if there is no stand-alone subscription, the amount is limited to the cost of a comparable stand-alone digital subscription that provides access to content of a QCJO. If there is no comparable digital news subscription then only one half of the amount paid is an eligible expense.

January 27, 2021
11:13 am
canadian.100
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Norman1 said
It's not that hard to figure out the amount. The amount will be what one paid for the digital subscription to the content.

If one paid for the higher-priced subscription to the content physically delivered as a printed newspaper, then only what would be charged for digital-only access to the same content is eligible.

This is from Personal income tax: About the digital news subscription tax credit:

How to claim the credit

Individuals who have entered into an agreement with a QCJO for a qualifying subscription that is eligible, can claim the credit on their income tax return for the years 2020 to 2024.

A list of organizations that offer eligible qualifying subscriptions will be posted on Canada.ca.

If the qualifying subscription is eligible and provides access to content in non-digital form or content other than content of the QCJO:

  • only the cost of a stand-alone digital subscription to the content of the QCJO will be an eligible expense; and
  • if there is no stand-alone subscription, the amount is limited to the cost of a comparable stand-alone digital subscription that provides access to content of a QCJO. If there is no comparable digital news subscription then only one half of the amount paid is an eligible expense.

  

It is easy enough to figure out the amount - however the unknown piece of information is which organizations are Qualified Canadian Journalism Organizations - Post 5 above by Bill indicates that only La Presse appears to be such an organization and is listed on the CRA site. Why are no others listed on the CRA site, just La Presse? Is it possible no other organization applied for the credits? If so, then subscribers (other than La Presse subscribers) will be unable to claim the tax credit.

January 27, 2021
4:12 pm
Loonie
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Bill said

Being able to reduce your customers' cost by 15% vs outlets that gov't does not approve isn't too shabby a competitive advantage.  

That would be true if (1) the general public were aware of this provision; (2) they were motivated to make the purchase because of this. I doubt either is true.

Human motivation on "discounts" has more to do with timing, e.g. "This weekend only! 15% off!", but no such benefit exists with this tax credit. And, in addition, this deal is not straightforward and the paper I contacted at least was not being helpful, let alone promoting it.
And it's not like buying milk. They don't all taste the same. The brand matters. If what you want is, for example, the Globe and Mail, you will not be weighing the purchase against a more obscure publication which does not offer the tax credit; you will just go ahead and buy the Globe and Mail.

While I appreciate what the government was supposedly trying to accomplish with this tax credit, I don't think it's likely to be a very effective one.

January 27, 2021
5:37 pm
Bill
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The practicality, effectiveness, etc of this provision will unfold as time goes on, I suppose, it's new.

Also, seems to me the real purpose of it is that this government wants to send a subtle signal to digital news providers that it will financially disfavour digital news providers that don't meet its definition of "qualified", i.e. it's a small part of this government's efforts to limit online expression to what it deems is not "fake news". So its effectiveness will be that news outlets, over time and as the provisions perhaps are enhanced over the coming years, will be disinclined to publish what the government doesn't like. Introduces just a bit of nervousness, and for some media outlets more than others. That's why it doesn't make much sense from a tax point of view, because that's not really the purpose of it. Otherwise, why does an outlet have to be "qualified"? Or what else is the point of it? Again, that's just my sense.

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