Creative Finance Techniques That Work in Film Tax Credit Financing in Canada

If your production in film, television or digital animation requires financing then Film Tax Credits in Canada are solid ways to augment your overall finance plan. In order to finance your credits your tax credit certificates must of course qualify for Canadian content in the appropriate categories and must satisfy the rules set out by Ottawa and your province relative to personnel and production costs.

In the last couple years the government has made a commendable effort to streamline the application processes for film tax credits and we must remind readers that these credits apply equally to the television and digital animation areas.

In the digital animation areas you might also be eligible for SR&ED credits under what is known as the Scientific Research and Experimental Development program. This is without a doubt Canada’s largest program for tax credits, far surpassing the film, TV and animation area

Financing of productions can be very traditional or very creative, but without a doubt tax credits can play a key role in either total finance strategy. Typically productions are financed in the following manner: Non studio producers, i.e. the independents arrange distribution and pre-sales of the project. Typically you are entering into an agreement to give the other party the rights to display your production via TV, DVD, etc in that particular geography.

Many pre-sales budgets we have seen show a best case and worst case pre-sales scenario. The pre-sale financing are, in effect, promissory notes to your special purpose entity for this production. The next financing challenge is to ‘finance’ those promises to pay for a number of different finance entities, including banks, specialized firm finance firms in Canada, etc. In Canada 2 or 3 of the nations banks are somewhat actively involved in this area – while others shun the industry as too high risk for traditional lending.

You of course are also required to post a completion bond covering cost over runs and the ultimate completion of your project.

Film tax credit financing is one of the final elements of your overall finance strategy. Your tax credit is, in Canada, in essence a government subsidy, so why shouldn’t you take advantage of it. Tax credits finance a very large part of what is known in the industry as the ‘below the line ‘budget. These are, in effect, your actual production expenses.

You therefore must ensure your production qualifies for the right expenses, and typically those are validated by an accountant or firm with entertainment accounting experience. By utilizing a Canadian actor component, as well as technicians and other resources you have set your project up to both qualify for the tax credits, and, then more specifically to cash flow or sell these credits.

In order to finance your credits you should have an overall finance plan, and a strategy for the equity and debt components of your production. Validate your budgets and ensure your productions have the required ‘points’ in order to qualify. Film tax credits can be financed on filing, or, more popularly, as you spend funds, which are then reimbursed via the tax credit financing.

Speak to a trusted, credible, and experienced film tax consultant around your ability to maximize and capitalize on this critical strategy within ‘Hollywood North’, aka Canada!

The #1 Reason Your Best Business Financing Choice Could Be Asset Based Lending

There is one overriding reason why asset based lending could be your best choice for business financing in Canada. What is that reason? Simply that it works when other types of financing are not available or don’t fit your current financial status.

The reality is that asset based lending works for all firms in all types of industries, and is not dependent on your overall financial performance that might be the focus of a more traditional based financing. That’s a powerful statement, so let’s examine what the financing is, how it works, and answer some key questions that might help business owners and financial managers determine if this financing is the solution to many, or all of their financing challenges.

So let’s back step a bit. What is asset based financing. Focus on one key word in that phrase – assets! This method of financing simply allows you to monetize and draw on the market value of the assets of your firm. Those assets are in very predictable categories, they are receivables, inventory, equipment and real estate. If you have one or all of those your firm is a prime candidate!

In some cases this method of financing is confused with factoring. Factoring is the sale of one of those asset categories – your receivables. An asset based line of credit lends against receivables, but also includes, inventory, equipment, etc. That is the difference!

The prime difference in qualifying for such a facility is really the difference that exists when you compare this type of financing to a Canadian chartered banking relationship. That banking relationship comes with a number of requirements that are often not needed when an asset based line of credit is in fact your real and best solution. Some of those traditional requirements might be profitability, years in business, the type of industry you are in, guarantees of shareholders and owners, etc. Those qualifications are not the focus of asset based lending. However the assets are.

On a day to day basis how does this type of business financing work. It’s quite simply. You and your asset based lender determine on a regular basis, i.e. weekly, monthly, etc what your asset categories total – a borrowing based is then developed on those categories and funds are depositing into your bank account for use as working capital by your firm. In Canada a 250k facility is more or less the bottom level of this type of financing, and facilities can be arranged into the many millions of dollars.

So if you want an easy way to remember the difference between this type of financing and a bank revolving line of credit simply remember that the bank focuses on overall financial strength and cash flow, our facility focuses on assets!

Because your assets are being financing as the primary focus of this type of facility you will have to report on those assets probably on a much more regular basis, so your firm should be in a position to prepare regular reports on receivables, inventory turnover, etc. When fixed assets are being financing, i.e. unencumbered equipment you own, etc then in many cases an initial appraisal will be required. This small dollar investment though can generate thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in working capital.

For “asset rich” companies, an asset-based loan may make more funds available because it is not based strictly on the anticipated levels of cash flow. Additionally, the structure often requires fewer covenants, providing more flexibility for many borrowers.

So why is this then in many ways the best method of financing your business? Does it actually add cash to your firm? That is where some confusion comes in, but simply think of it as no adding new cash per se to your firm, it simply accelerates or quickens the cash flow that is traveling through your business. By financing your receivables and inventories to the maximum possible you turn over new sales and generate increased profits, and that’s what business financing is all about.

You may not even have heard of asset based lines of credit, perhaps you have but didn’t understand how it works or how it compares with other types of business financing. Investigate how this facility can become potentially your best choice in the overall financing of your business. Speak to a trusted, credible and experienced advisor who can work you through the Canadian landscape of asset based lines of credit.

Finance Your SRED Claim Now And Take Advantage Of Your Grant Today

Your ability to finance your SRED claim (aka ‘sr&ed claim) simply signifies the cash flowing of your non repayable government grant. We think that anytime you can hasten cash from the government and turn that into immediate cash flow and working capital, well… that is a good thing.

SRED grants, (sr&Ed grants) are of course the funds you received from Canada Revenue Agency based on the filing of your Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) claim. These funds have never been more generous and many Canadian business owners and financial managers are not aware that the program even exists, let alone their ability to partake in the billions of dollars of non repayable grants issued by this department within CRA Canada. Essentially it is the largest support for research in Canada. Many clients are always asking us if there are ‘government grants and loans ‘. We are of the opinion that the two best programs in Canada to finance your firm are the federal BIL/CSBF loan and of course the SRED program.

Your firm ability to generate a claim immediately turns into a non repayable cash grant. Timing is everything, and you have the ability to finance that claim if you want to monetize those funds and get them working inside your firm. For many early stage and start up firms the ability to finance their SRED claim is often the largest receivable the firm has that year. And the beauty of the program is of course that as along as your firm is a private corporation you can partake in these funds.

As companies, and even as consumers we generally use an ‘expert ‘to prepare our taxes and file them. It is certainly no different with SRED and we recommend that you use a sr&Ed consultant to ensure your claim is prepared properly. Naturally using their own expertise, or the governments self assessment tool you want to be sure you are eligible for the grant, given that it takes time to prepare and file the claim.

Naturally after filing a professionally prepared claim you are of course entitled to wait for you cheque – that timeframe can be anywhere from a couple of months to potentially close to a year depending on some key factors as your first time filing, and the due diligence that SRED employees do on the technical and financial aspects of your claim.

So you are eligible for Sr&Ed. You have filed a claim. You have been made aware you can finance the claim, but you are not sure how. In general the banks in Canada don’t finance these sorts of claims – that’s a general statement, but 99% of the time we are pretty sure we are correct in making that comment. Therefore it is strongly recommended you contact a business financing advisor who specializes in SRED finance. At that point it’s a relatively simply process, and we encourage clients to view it as they would any business financing, from a lease to a loan arrangement. There is standard application information, and the whole process, up to an including funding, can be completed in a manner of weeks.

As a general rule it makes sense to finance claims that are over 250k in size, but quite frankly smaller claims can also be financed. There is no challenge to the amount of financing re the size of a SRED filing – Claims well in excess of a million dollars can be easily financed.

The key advantage of financing a claim is that you are not undertaking any debt; you are just discounting a receivable that you have – that receivable being the SRED claim itself. The sr&ed filing itself is the actual collateral for the financing – and if you want more good news then you should be aware you don’t makes payments on a SRED claim finance. The funds advanced are netted out from your final chq from the government. Usually SRED claims are financed at 70% of their filed value that leaves a buffer in case part of the claim is downsized when approved.

Cash flow is king, if you have a SRED claim be aware that claim is financeable, and your ability to get those fund working again usually puts you in a more competitive stance within your industry, and allows those funds to be used for further research or any general working capital purpose. Speak to a trusted, credible and experienced advisor in this area to ensure you are aware of the benefits of sr&Ed finance – claim those funds!

What Asset Based Finance Could Do For Your Company

Your company is facing a variety of challenges – many of them tend to be business financing related. The challenges can be positive in nature, and some might pose serious threats to your business growth or even existence. How asset can based finance aid your firm in allowing you to generate the working capital and cash flow you need to prosper and grow, let alone survive?

Asset based financed helps your firm in both good time and challenging times. The reality is that most business owners and financial managers in Canada currently don’t think we are in ‘good times ‘and business financing continues to be a huge challenge.

Asset based finance comes in a variety of forms – it is commonly in the industry itself referred to as ‘ ABL ‘ financing, and typically your firm would negotiate what is simply or commonly known as an asset based line of credit. The facility provides you with a revolving line of credit very similar to a chartered bank facility – it might also include a significant inventory financing component, and usually address what we could best call special needs or special situations re: turnarounds, growth, distress, etc.

The best candidate for an asset based finance line of credit is a firm that is experiencing strong growth but can’t attract the traditional capital that is used to finance receivables, inventory, plant and equipment, and even in some cases real estate.

An asset based line of credit can best be described as a ‘creative’ financing solution – that is because it takes your balance sheet and finances it to the desired ‘max’ based upon your different asset components. In some cases even intellectual property or patents might be included in the overall financing, although that clearly is not the norm.

Pricing in Canada on asset based lines of credit is all over the map – We tell clients they can expect to pay anywhere near a point or two over prime up to an including 1.5-2% per month. What defines that huge difference in pricing is what our clients are always asking. The answer is that that there are different what we will call ‘ tiers ‘ in ABL lending in Canada, and the overall size and deal quality of your firm will ultimately drive you to an asset based finance partner that more closely matches your needs and your overall ‘ risk profile ‘.

The reality is that asset based finance has somewhat changed the overall face of business financing in Canada and more and more firms, both large and small are gravitating to this form of finance. Deal sizes in Canada vary greatly – we do not encourage clients who have an under 250k/mo need to explore asset based finance because at a certain point the reporting, costs, etc done make sense for neither your firm or the ABL lender.

Asset based lending margins your assets to the extend of their current market value. Inventory financing is a major component of your facility if you require that, and inventory financing in Canada, from traditional sources, is difficult to arrange.

Is there any downside in asset based lending and an ABL working capital facility? Our clients ask. With relative certainty we can say any downside is significantly offset by upside. The facility gives you almost unlimited working capital, and margins assets that might otherwise not be finance able. And don;t forget, this type of facility does not add debt to your balance sheet, you are simply monetizing your hard and in some cases soft assets.

Speak to a trusted, credible and experience advisor in asset based lending who can highlight financing options that make sense for your firm’s survival and growth.