Ontario Computer Animation & Special Effects Tax Credit (OCASE)
What Is It?
The OCASE Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit based on eligible Ontario labour expenditures incurred by a qualifying corporation during a taxation year with respect to eligible computer animation and special effects activities. The OCASE Tax Credit may be claimed on eligible expenditures in addition to the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit (OFTTC) or the Ontario Production Services Tax Credit (OPSTC).
How Much Is The Tax Credit?
The OCASE Tax Credit is calculated as 18% of the eligible Ontario labour expenditures incurred by a qualifying corporation with respect to eligible computer animation and special effects activities. There is no cap on eligible Ontario labour expenditures.
Who Is Eligible?
A qualifying corporation is a Canadian corporation that is Canadian or foreign-owned, has a permanent establishment in Ontario and files an Ontario corporate tax return. Qualifying corporations may include animation or visual effects houses, post-production houses and film and television production companies which perform eligible computer animation and special effects activities.
What Is An Eligible Production?
Eligible productions are productions created for commercial exploitation, which are not in an excluded genre, or for which financial support would be contrary to public policy. The production must also have received an OFTTC or OPSTC certificate to be eligible for the OCASE tax credit.
What Activities Are Eligible?
Eligible computer animation and special effects activities are those carried out in Ontario directly in support of the production of eligible animation or visual effects for use in eligible productions.
Eligible animation or visual effects means animation or visual effects created using digital technologies but does not include:
- audio effects
- in-camera effects
- credit rolls
- animation or visual effects all or substantially all of which are created by editing activities, or
- animation or visual effects for use in promotional material for the eligible production
Eligible computer animation and special effects activities include designing, modelling, rendering, lighting, painting, animating and compositing but do not include activities that are scientific research and experimental development.
What Expenditures Are Eligible?
Qualifying labour expenditures are;
a) salaries and wages (i.e., amounts paid to employees) directly attributable to eligible activities carried on by the qualifying corporation, that are paid to Ontario residents (individuals resident in Ontario at the end of the previous calendar year) who report to a permanent establishment of the qualifying corporation in Ontario at which the eligible activities are carried out;
b) freelancers who are individuals, partnerships, or arm’s-length incorporated individuals (such as loan-out corporations).
The labour expenditures must be incurred in the taxation year for which they are being claimed and paid in the taxation year or within 60 days after the end of the taxation year.
How Is The Credit Administered?
The OCASE Tax Credit is jointly administered by Ontario Creates – an agency of the Government of Ontario - and the Canada Revenue Agency. Application is made to Ontario Creates for a Certificate of Eligibility for the taxation year, which the qualifying corporation files with the Canada Revenue Agency together with its tax return in order to claim the OCASE Tax Credit. The amount of the credit, net of any Ontario taxes owing will be paid to the qualifying corporation. If the qualifying corporation does not owe any taxes the full amount will be paid out.
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*PLEASE NOTE: CANADA REVENUE AGENCY (CRA) ADMINISTERS BOTH FEDERAL AND ONTARIO CORPORATE TAXES. THE CRA IS THE FIRST POINT OF CONTACT FOR ALL CORPORATE TAX ENQUIRIES (1 800 959-5525).
Note: This sheet is a general guide and may not be relied upon in order to determine eligibility or the amount of an anticipated credit. Please consult the OCASE legislation and regulation for further details.
FAQs as of November 2018
This version of the FAQs have been updated to provide CRS's guidelines on determining residency status.
Numbering may have changed.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who can apply for an OCASE tax credit?
OCASE applicants can be:
- Animation companies, Visual Effects houses, post-production companies or 3D Service Providers working under contract to the production’s producer.
- Production companies and production services companies which have performed activities directly in support of digital animation or visual effects (See Producer’s Claim Primer).
A qualifying applicant must be incorporated in Canada, file an Ontario corporate tax return and have a permanent establishment in Ontario where animation or visual effects activities are performed.
The labour being claimed must have been paid by your company for employees or freelance individuals. If you have hired a visual effects service provider, they will be the OCASE applicant for the labour they have paid.
There may be more than one OCASE applicant on a production as more than one company may have performed eligible digital animation / visual effects activities. Ontario Creates will issue a Certificate of Eligibility to each eligible company for their own expenditures.
2. When can I apply?
OCASE is based on your fiscal year. Your claim must be based on actual expenditures, not projections, so you should submit your claim after the close of your financial year when all eligible activities are completed and a DVD of the work done is available. You may include any eligible productions with work done in that fiscal year, so there may be several projects claimed. If one production spans several years, you may include it on successive applications, as long as you claim only actual payments made within the fiscal period relevant to each application.
Ontario Creates does not impose a deadline for OCASE applications, but there are taxation deadlines that may preclude receiving a tax credit for your year. Please check in with the Canada Revenue Agency if you’re unsure whether you’re still eligible to file or amend your corporate tax return. (Canada Revenue Agency Film Services Unit: (416 973-3407)
Please note: there is an additional filing fee of $100 applied to applications for Certificates of Eligibility received more than 24 months after the year-end of the claim.
3. My production isn't eligible for OFTTC or OPSTC - am I eligible for OCASE?
A production must receive an OFTTC or OPSTC Certificate in order to be eligible for the OCASE tax credit.
4. Does the timing of an OFTTC or OPSTC Certificate of Eligibility impact OCASE?
Yes. For purposes of OCASE, an eligible production is one that has already been issued an OFTTC or OPSTC Certificate of Eligibility. If you are a producer that will be applying for OFTTC or OPSTC and you have performed eligible animation or visual effects activities so you plan on applying for OCASE, you may wish to consider staggering your applications. Applicants for the OFTTC/OPSTC may apply to Ontario Creates as early as the first day of principal photography or key animation. OCASE applicants may only apply to Ontario Creates at the end of their fiscal year. If you have applied promptly, you will have your OFTTC/OPSTC Certificate of Eligibility in hand and it won’t hold up your OCASE application. Likewise, you may have contracted vendors to provide animation or visual effects services on your production. The processing of OCASE applications by those vendors for their work will be held up pending the processing and certification of your OFTTC/OPSTC. Producers are encouraged to communicate with their visual effects and animation suppliers as to when they file their OFTTC/OPSTC claims.
5. Are productions that are only exhibited on online platforms eligible for OCASE?
To receive the OCASE tax credit for computer animation and special effects activities on a production, the production must have been certified under the OFTTC or the OPSTC. For the OFTTC, a production must be broadcast on television (including licensed video-on-demand (VOD) services), shown theatrically, or distributed on DVD. Productions shown exclusively on online platforms are not eligible for the OFTTC. However, productions that are only exhibited online are eligible for the OPSTC if they are exhibited online through a service which provides content to the end user for a purchase, license or subscription fee. Examples of such over-the-top streaming services are Netflix, Crave, Amazon Prime and Hulu.
6. Does Ontario follow CAVCO Public Notice 2017-02 which defines ineligible genres and Public Notice 2017-03 which defines advertising for purposes of federal film or video production tax credit programs?
Yes, Ontario Creates uses these definitions in determining if a production is an excluded production by virtue of being one of the genres listed in the OFTTC and OPSTC Regulation (O. Reg 37/09) section 27(2) h and section 31 paragraph 4, or section 90(11) of the Taxation Act, 2007 for OCASE. While Ontario Creates uses the same definitions, Ontario Creates will conduct our own assessment of a production’s genre.
7. Has there been any change to the treatment of talk shows for the purposes of the Ontario tax credits?
Talk shows have always been and continue to be ineligible for all Ontario tax credits, including the OFTTC, OPSTC, OCASE and OIDMTC. Talk shows are only eligible for the federal credit, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit administered by CAVCO, where principal photography began after February 16, 2016. Talk shows are not eligible for the federal Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit administered by CAVCO.
8. How does a producer on a live-action production make a Producer’s Claim?
If the production is live-action and a portion of the work is related to digital effect creation, such as labour for blue or green screen shooting, plate shots, digital scanning, motion capture or other mechanical work, the producer can make a direct OCASE claim for these costs. These claims would only include a portion of the applicant’s costs for activities directly in support of the production of an eligible visual effect. For example, a producer that wishes to make an OCASE claim for such work could divide the VFX related shooting time by the total shooting time and apply that percentage to the eligible labour.
Only labour costs directly in support of the creation of the visual effect or animation would be eligible. Labour costs for drivers, catering, production office staff and other peripheral personnel are not eligible. As a general rule of thumb, key roles and first assistants that contribute directly to a shot onto which a digital visual effect will be applied are eligible. Roles that do not contribute directly (i.e. are not involved in a hands-on way) will be ineligible. Generally, supervisors and coordinators would not be eligible.
Please refer to the Eligible Positions for a Producer’s OCASE Claim posted on our website for the list of the conventional cast and crew that can be included in this type of claim. As well, please review this primer on how to make a Producer’s OCASE Claim:
9. Is 3D work eligible for the OCASE tax credit and how can it be claimed?
Both the shooting of a live-action production in 3D, as well as converting a 2D production into 3D are eligible activities under OCASE. On a live-action production shot in 3D, a producer may make an OCASE claim provided that there was work performed during filming on shots that are later manipulated for depth perception and other VFX properties. Only labour of the crew associated with manipulating the stereoscopic image, that is, only labour over and above what would be needed in a conventional 2D shoot, is eligible under a Producer’s 3D OCASE Claim.
A visual effects house or post-production house must be under contract with the producer in order for their work on a live-action 3D shoot or a conversion project to be eligible. Note that some conversions from 2D to 3D are carried out years after the original production was produced. If the production is being converted for a re-release by a different company than the original production company, the VFX/post-production house will not be considered to be under contract with the producer and that scenario would not qualify for the OCASE tax credit.
10. How do I determine residency?
Under film and television tax credits, eligible labour expenditures are based on residency in Ontario for purposes of the provincial credits, and residency in Canada for purposes of the federal credits. CRA provides guidelines to assist companies in determining whether individuals are resident in Canada. An individual may be a “factual resident” or a “deemed resident” of Canada. Factual residents of Canada are those who have established significant residential, economic and social ties to Canada. They are subject to Canadian and provincial/territorial income tax on worldwide income throughout the year. Labour expenditures paid to factual residents may qualify for both federal and provincial film and media tax credits. CRA’s guidelines have a list of documents that are evidence of strong ties to Canada for purposes of establishing if someone is a factual resident of Canada. For more information see Residency status determination. The same principles can be applied in determining if an individual is Ontario-based individual or a resident of another Canadian province.
This is distinguished from “deemed residents” who have not established significant ties in Canada but were in Canada for 183 days or more in a calendar year. They are subject to Canadian income tax on worldwide income throughout the year and are subject to federal surtax instead of provincial tax. For more information see Residency status determination. Labour expenditures paid to “deemed residents” may qualify for federal film and television tax credits but do not qualify for provincial film and television tax credits.
11. What does Prescribed Cost mean?
“Prescribed Cost” is the term used in the OCASE legislation to mean your total cost to produce the animation or visual effect, including labour and non-labour, within the claimed fiscal year. The prescribed cost does not have an effect on your OCASE calculation, though it is used to determine the relative impact of any assistance you may have received on a production.
12. What is a Labour Schedule?
This is the itemization of the labour expenditures that you’re claiming on each production. It is a list of the eligible roles being claimed, detailing the amount paid for each job, clearly broken down as follows:
- Employee labour “Wages” (T4 salaries and wages of employees);
- Unincorporated freelance labour “Unincorporated Remuneration” (paid to arm’s-length individuals who are not employees of the corporation); and
- Incorporated freelance labour “Incorporated Remuneration” (paid to arm’s-length, single-shareholder corporations for work rendered by that shareholder).
If you have reduced the labour claim for any category by a percentage, then please include a column that shows that percentage/reduction.
If you are a producer making a Producer’s Claim for live-action filming, please refer to the Primer for the additional information that we will require.
13. What is considered ‘assistance’ and therefore grinds the tax credit?
Assistance includes grants, subsidies and forgivable loans. These will reduce (‘grind’) your tax credit. However, the 2015 Ontario Production Services and Computer Animation and Special Effects Transitional Fund is not considered assistance for the purposes of the OFTTC, OPSTC or OCASE.
Bona fide loans with a set repayment date, other tax credits, licence fees and equity investments are not considered assistance.
Sponsorships may be considered assistance if there does not appear to be an exchange of benefits (such as cash or goods) at fair market value between the producer and the sponsor.
Labour deferrals reduce the amount of labour that can be claimed for the OFTTC and OCASE tax credit. Deferrals for non-labour costs do not. The OPSTC is based on qualifying production expenditures (QPE) which is broader than just labour. Deferrals of qualifying production expenditures reduce the amount of QPE that can be claimed for the OPSTC.
We will want to see documentation of all the financial contributions to a production, including loans, deferrals and sponsorship amounts.
In April 2017, CRA posted an application policy to provide stakeholders in the film, video and television production industries with an overview of the legislation related to the definition of assistance. The application policy addresses various forms of financing and provides guidance to stakeholders to help them determine whether an amount would be considered assistance for purposes of calculating the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC) and the Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit (PSTC). The policy also applies to similar provincial tax credits that are co-administered by CRA such as OFTTC, OPSTC and OCASE.
14. Does crowdfunding impact a production’s tax credit?
Crowdfunding will not impact a production’s eligibility for a tax credit. However, depending on the type of crowdfunding model utilized, it may be treated as assistance. In April 2017 CRA posted an application policy on various forms of financing and how to determine if they were assistance. The policy also dealt with three crowdfunding models: donation, lending and investment. The donation model is the one that producers might be most likely to use where there are small gifts/items provided by the producer to the contributor based on tiered levels of donation. In accordance with CRA’s application policy the donation model of crowdfunding would be treated as assistance.
CRA Application Policy
15. Do I need to submit the “Ontario Declaration of Residency/Consent Forms” to Ontario Creates?
No, we generally do not want to see these declarations as part of our review.
16. What is the tax credit administration fee?
The OCASE tax credit administration fee is calculated as 0.15% of eligible expenditures for the application. There is a minimum fee of $500 per application and maximum fee of $10,000 per application.
There is an additional filing fee of $100 applied to applications for Certificates of Eligibility received more than 24 months after the year-end of the claim. As well, there is a fee of $100 for each Amended Certificate.
17. Where can I get more information?
If you have further questions, please contact the phone duty line by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 416-642-6659.Please leave a detailed message including your name, company, phone number and the file about which you are inquiring. There is a different person on phone duty every day, and he/she will respond to your email or call within one business day.