Finance Minister Says Ottawa Has No Plans To Tax Netflix, Streaming Services

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said that Ottawa has no plans to tax Netflix or other streaming services operating in Canada.

The federal government has been under growing pressure from Canadian broadcasters and some consumer groups to impose a sales tax or special form of taxation on foreign based streaming services that enable Canadians to watch movies and television shows via the Internet.

Netflix is the largest of the streaming services and Canadians are increasingly turning to it and other online options as they cancel their subscriptions to traditional television cable services provided by Canadian companies such as Bell and Rogers.

Minister Morneau insisted on Sunday that Ottawa has no intention of changing its promise not to tax Netflix, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself has said repeatedly that there will be no tax on Netflix or other streaming services.

The Finance Minister’s latest comments on the subject come after Heritage Minister Melanie Joly insisted she never agreed to exempt Netflix from any sales tax in her home province of Quebec. The federal Heritage Minister unveiled a cultural policy this past September that secured a $500 million pledge by Netflix to set up a Canadian office and fund original homegrown content — but the plan did not include taxes on the company's service.

Pressed about the issue last Friday, Minister Joly said anyone with concerns about the lack of federal taxes on online streaming services should talk to Minister Morneau because he's in charge of taxation. The provincial government in Quebec has vowed to tax foreign online businesses, including Netflix, if Ottawa doesn’t do so.

Quebec’s Finance Minister, Carlos Leitao, said Sunday that he plans to raise the issue with Minister Morneau when federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers meet for two days of talks in Ottawa later this week.