Federal minister says charging GST on Netflix is still on the table

In a recent interview on CTV’s Question Period, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said the idea of mandating American companies like Netflix to charge GST is still on the table, but ruled out requiring the company to pay into the Canadian Media Fund.

The question of how companies like Netflix should contribute to Canadian culture is an interesting one. Because it is an American company with no physical presence in Canada, Netflix doesn’t pay corporate taxes in the nation and also isn’t required to charge HST or GST. On top of that, it doesn’t contribute to the Canadian Media Fund, which supports Canadian media content.

The bigger picture

“This is a broader question [than a tax]. It’s about the participation of digital platforms to the system,” Joly said in the interview.

“We’re looking at all scenarios right now and certainly we want to engage with the different digital platforms in a conversation on how they can support Canadian content…. But the reality is we want to have every single stakeholder of the ecosystem [be] part of this conversation.”

Joly also stated that she will discuss the potential of legislating services like Netflix to charge and remit sales tax with Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

“This is not necessarily under the purview of Canadian heritage — it’s much more under the purview of my colleague.”

International discussion

In a larger sense, Joly noted that the questions surrounding this issue are ones that most other countries are dealing with, as well.

“The reality is, every single minister of culture in the world is asking itself how to deal with this question and we decided to have a very open conversation about this and this is why we’re leading the way,” said Joly.

“I’ve been in discussion with my counterparts in France and in the U.K. and they’re certainly looking at us when it comes to finding new ideas and this is why I’m so proud of what we’ve been doing with our public consultations and hearing different scenarios.”

Image credit: CTV

Related: Transport Canada bans Samsung Galaxy Note 7 from all Canadian flights