Frequently asked questions

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Frequently asked questions

Q1. What are the measures to support Canadian journalism?

The Government introduced three tax measures in Budget 2019 to support Canadian journalism.

  • The Canadian journalism labour tax credit, a 25% refundable tax credit on salaries or wages payable in respect of eligible newsroom employees for periods beginning on or after January 1, 2019.
  • The digital news subscription tax credit, a 15% non-refundable personal income tax credit for digital news subscription costs paid by an individual to a qualified Canadian journalism organization (QCJO), which applies to qualifying amounts paid after 2019 and before 2025.
  • A new type of qualified donee called a registered journalism organization for not-for-profit journalism organizations, which is in effect as of January 1, 2020.

The gateway for eligibility for all the income tax measures is for an organization to first be designated as a QCJO. While designation as a QCJO does not automatically entitle organizations to specific tax measures, it is the necessary first step in determining if any of the three income tax measures could apply.


Qualified Canadian journalism organization designation

Q2. What is a QCJO?

To be designated as a QCJO, an organization must meet the following conditions:

  • it is organized as a corporation, partnership or trust and meets additional criteria depending on how it is organized;
  • it operates in Canada, including that its content is edited, designed and, except in the case of digital content, published in Canada;
  • it is primarily engaged in the production of original news content which:
    • must be primarily focused on matters of general interest and reports of current events, including coverage of democratic institutions and processes, and
    • must not be primarily focused on a particular topic such as industry-specific news, sports, recreation, arts, lifestyle or entertainment;
  • it regularly employs two or more journalists who deal at arm's length with the organization in the production of its content;
  • it is not significantly engaged in the production of content:
    • to promote the interests, or report on the activities, of an organization, an association or its members,
    • for a government, Crown corporation or government agency, or
    • to promote goods or services;
  • it is not a Crown corporation, municipal corporation or government agency; and
  • it is designated, at that time, by a body prescribed for this purpose.

Q3. When will the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) accept applications for QCJO designation?

The CRA is ready to receive applications and published the process for organizations to apply for QCJO designation. This includes an application form and a guidance document to assist organizations wishing to apply. The application form for QCJO designation is now available online on the CRA website.

Organizations that are unsure if they should apply can use the self‑screening tool Qualified Canadian journalism organization – Eligibility.

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).

Q5. What recourse does a journalism organization have if their application for QCJO designation is denied?

Organizations whose applications for QCJO designation are not approved by the CRA may request a review of the decision. An applicant wishing to request a review will be asked do so in writing, explaining its concerns about the decision and providing additional information or supporting documents.

An organization that disagrees with the decision review, may file an application for a judicial review with the Federal Court of Canada.


Independent Advisory Board

Q6. As recommended by the Journalism and Written Media Independent Panel, will the Government be appointing an independent Advisory Board (Board)?

The Government announced that an independent Advisory Board is in place to make recommendations on whether a journalism organization meets certain criteria for QCJO designation. Members of the independent Advisory Board were selected with consideration given to the linguistic, cultural, and ethnic diversity of the country. The Board is composed of current and retired faculty members from post-secondary journalism schools across Canada.

Q7. What is the role of the independent Advisory Board?

The independent Advisory Board's role is that of special adviser to the Minister of National Revenue, or officials of the CRA to whom her authority has been delegated. It is responsible for making recommendations on whether an organization meets certain criteria for QCJO designation related to original news content and journalistic processes and principles.

Q8. Does this designation process require an independent Advisory Board?

The CRA is responsible for administering the legislation set out in the Income Tax Act. The independent Advisory Board will provide recommendations to the Minister on whether an organization meets the criteria for QCJO designation related to original news content and journalistic processes and principles.

Q9. Will the independent Advisory Board have the authority to designate organizations as a QCJO? Who has the final say in making the determination — the Minister, the CRA or the independent Advisory Board?

Pursuant to the Income Tax Act, the Minister of National Revenue has the power to designate organizations as a QCJO. The independent Advisory Board will make recommendations on certain criteria required for QCJO designation.


Canadian journalism labour tax credit

Q10. What is the new refundable labour tax credit?

The Canadian journalism labour tax credit is a refundable tax credit that is available at a rate of 25% of qualifying labour expenditures for a taxation year, for a eligible newsroom employees of a qualifying journalism organization (QJO). The amount of qualifying labour expenditures in respect of an eligible newsroom employee will be limited to $55,000, which will provide a maximum tax credit of $13,750 of qualifying labour expenditures per employee per year. This tax credit can be claimed by a corporation, partnership or a trust.

Q11. For the purposes of this tax credit, what is a QJO?

For an organization to qualify for the Canadian journalism labour tax credit, it must be a QJO. To be a QJO, the organization must first be designated as a QCJO. It must then meet the following conditions:

  • it is primarily engaged in the production of original written news content;
  • it does not carry on a broadcasting undertaking as defined in the Broadcasting Act;
  • it does not, in the taxation year in which the time occurs, receive an amount from the Aid to Publishers component of the Canada Periodical Fund;
  • if it is a corporation having share capital, it meets specific ownership conditions of a Canadian newspaper as defined in the Income Tax Act.

Q12. What is a qualifying labour expenditure?

A qualifying labour expenditure (QLE) describes the underlying expenditures of a QJO that will be eligible for the Canadian journalism labour tax credit. includes salary and wages payable to eligible newsroom employees in respect of a period on or after January 1, 2019, less the amount of any assistance received or entitled to be received in the year regarding that employee. As such, salary and wages that are in respect of a period before January 1, 2019, will not be a QLE. In addition, salary and wages will be a QLE of an organization only if they are in respect of a period throughout which the organization is a QJO.

Q13. What is an eligible newsroom employee?

An eligible newsroom employee, in respect of a QJO in a taxation year, means an individual who:

  • is employed by the QJO in the taxation year;
  • works, on average, a minimum of 26 hours per week throughout the portion of the taxation year in which the individual is employed by the QJO;
  • at any time in the taxation year, has been, or is reasonably expected to be, employed by the QJO for a minimum period of 40 consecutive weeks that includes that time;
  • spends at least 75% of their time engaged in the production of news content, including researching, collecting information, verifying facts, photographing, writing, editing, designing and otherwise preparing content; and
  • meets any prescribed conditions (currently there are no prescribed conditions).

Q14. How soon after being designated as a QCJO can organizations claim the Canadian journalism labour tax credit? Will they need to wait until the 2020 tax-filing season?

The Canadian journalism labour tax credit is effective January 1, 2019. Organizations that have been designated as a QCJO and that are a QJO, may claim this tax credit by providing certain information with their income tax returns. Please refer to the Guidance on the income tax measures to support journalism for details. The eligible organizations are therefore, encouraged to file their income tax returns with the required information on or before the due date for filing their income tax returns to claim this tax credit.


Digital news subscription tax credit

Q15. What is the digital news subscription tax credit (DNSTC)?

The DNSTC is a new non-refundable tax credit for amounts paid by individuals after 2019 and before 2025 for qualifying subscription expenses.

Q16. How will an individual claim the DNSTC?

Individuals will be able to claim the credit on their personal income tax and benefit return for the years 2020 to 2024.

Q17. What is a qualifying subscription expense?

A qualifying subscription expense is the amount the subscriber paid in the year for a digital news subscription with a QCJO that is primarily engaged in the production of original written news content and is not engaged in a broadcasting undertaking as defined in the Broadcasting Act.

A digital news subscription is an agreement entered into between an individual who is a subscriber, and the QCJO, that entitles the subscriber to access content of the QCJO in digital form.

Q18. How will the credit be calculated?

The maximum credit will be calculated by multiplying the lowest personal income tax rate (15%) by the total of all amounts the subscriber paid for qualifying subscription expenses in the year up to $500.

Q19. Who can claim the DNSTC?

Individuals who are subscribers can claim the DNSTC if they have entered into an agreement with a QCJO for a digital news subscription.

Q20. Can the claim be shared?

Only the individual(s) who entered into the agreement can claim the credit. If more than one individual is entitled to claim the qualifying subscription expense for a year (i.e. spouses, roommates, etc.), the total amount can be split between them, provided that the total amount claimed is not more than the maximum amount that would be allowed if only one of them made the claim.

Q21. Can an individual make a claim for more than one digital news subscription?

Individuals can claim the total of all amounts paid for qualifying subscription expenses in the year, up to a maximum of $500. However, if the digital news subscription 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. If there is no stand-alone subscription, then only one half of the amount paid is an eligible expense.


Qualified donee status

Q22. What are the benefits associated with becoming a registered journalism organization (RJO)?

RJOs are tax-exempt and can issue official donation receipts for eligible gifts they receive from individuals or corporations. In addition, since RJOs are qualified donees, the Income Tax Act allows registered charities to make gifts to RJOs.

In addition, an RJO that is also a QJO may be entitled to this tax credit in respect of its qualifying labour expenditure.

Q23. What are the eligibility requirements for registration as an RJO?

To be eligible for registration as an RJO, a journalism organization must apply to the CRA in prescribed form and demonstrate that it meets the following requirements:

  • it must be designated as a QCJO;
  • it must be a corporation or a trust;
  • it must be constituted and operated for purposes exclusively related to journalism;
  • any business activities it carries on must be related to its purposes;
  • it has trustees or a board of directors, each of whom deals with each other at arm's length;
  • it cannot be controlled, directly or indirectly in any manner whatever, by a person or group of persons that do not deal with each other at arm's length;
  • generally, in a taxation year, it cannot accept gifts from any one source that represent more than 20% of its total revenues (including donations); and
  • no part of its income may be payable to, or otherwise available for the personal benefit of a proprietor, member, shareholder, director, trustee, settlor or like individual.

Q24. Will RJOs have annual filing requirements with the CRA?

RJOs will be required to file annual information returns, public information returns and financial statements with the CRA. The returns will require the RJOs to provide information on their activities, revenue, expenditures, assets, and liabilities. They will also be required to disclose, in their public information returns, the name(s) of any donors that made donations totaling over $5,000 during the fiscal period and the amount of those donations.

Q25. What are the obligations for RJOs to maintain their registration?

To maintain its registration, an RJO must continue to meet the eligibility criteria for registration, along with its other obligations as a qualified donee under the Income Tax Act. Specifically, an RJO must:

  • file an annual information return and public information return containing information on its activities and the name(s) of any donors that make donations of over $5,000 and the amount donated;
  • keep proper books and records that demonstrate that it continues to meet the requirements under the Income Tax Act and provide these to the CRA on request;
  • ensure that any official donation receipts issued meet the requirements of the Income Tax Act;
  • not be factually controlled by a person or a group of related persons; and
  • generally not receive gifts that represent more than 20% of its total revenues for a given fiscal period, including donations, from any one source.

Q26. Under what circumstances can an RJO receive a donation that exceeds 20% of its revenues for a given fiscal period?

In a taxation year, an RJO may not receive a gift from any one source that represents more than 20% of its total revenues, unless the gift was:

  • made by way of bequest;
  • made within 12 months after the organization is first registered as an RJO; or
  • approved, on a case-by-case basis, by the Minister of National Revenue.

Q27. What actions may the CRA take if an RJO ceases to meet the requirements for registration as a qualified donee?

Where an RJO no longer meets, or fails to comply with, the requirements for registration, the CRA may use one of several compliance tools, including education letters, sanction or revocation of registration. The severity of the non-compliance will determine which action the CRA will take. If a journalism organization's registration is revoked, it will no longer be exempt from income tax and will no longer be entitled to issue official donation receipts. Its status will also be listed on the CRA's website as revoked.

Q28. What recourse does an RJO have if the CRA proposes to revoke its registration?

Where the CRA proposes to revoke the registration of an RJO, it may file an objection with the Appeals Branch of the CRA. If the organization disagrees with the decision of the Appeals Branch, it has the right to appeal the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal.

Q29. Will the list of RJOs be publicly available?

The name, registration number, registration status, and effective date of status of all RJOs will be listed on the CRA's website, similar to registered charities and other types of qualified donees.

Q30. Where can I find more information on RJOs?

For additional information on RJOs, as well as the two other tax measures to support Canadian journalism, go to Supporting Canadian Journalism.


For general information

Q31. Where can I find more information about the tax measures?

The CRA provides the latest information on Canada.ca. Taxpayers should check online regularly for updated forms, policies, guidance, guidelines, and questions and answers.

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Date modified:
2020-03-25