B.C. FILM FESTIVAL ORGANIZER SURPRISED BY TAX BILL AFTER MOVING PROGRAMMING ONLINE DURING PANDEMIC

Vancouver Queer Film Festival was exempt from PST — until it started streaming content

The Vancouver Queer Film Festival, which held in-person events prior to the pandemic, has been hit with a tax bill after it moved its content online without realizing it was putting itself in the same category as streaming services like Netflix. (Facebook/VancouverQFF)

When the pandemic began and in-person entertainment screeched to a halt in British Columbia, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival jumped on the virtual bandwagon and started streaming content online.

But the move resulted in an unexpected tax bill and a cautionary tale for other organizations.

According to Brandon Yan, executive director of Out On Screen, the organization that produces the festival, live events in B.C. are exempt from paying provincial sales tax (PST).

But Yan says B.C. event organizers who decided to move films and performances online during the pandemic have been surprised to learn they are being billed for the tax.

“No one realized that they suddenly fell into a new tax category of providing a telecommunications service,” said Yan, speaking Wednesday on CBC’s The Early Edition.

He said he learned about the tax issue not from the government, but through contacts at another Vancouver film festival.

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