FAQ for Minors’ Trust

ACTRA PRS Minors’ Trust Frequently Asked Questions

1.Why did ACTRA decide to establish a Minors’ Trust?

ACTRA is the exclusive bargaining agent for all performers – including Minors – covered by the Independent Production Agreement (IPA) and the National Television and Radio Commercial Agreement (NCA).  The IPA is a collective agreement which provides for minimum terms and conditions of engagement for performers in the film and television production industry in Canada and the NCA is a collective agreement which covers rates and conditions of engagement of performers in radio and television commercials.  ACTRA has always taken its duty to protect the unique interests a Minor seriously and establishing the ACTRA Minors’ Trust is a manifestation of this duty.

In California a law designed to protect the earnings of child actors, known as the Coogan Law was enacted in 1939. The law was named for child actor Jackie Coogan, who filed suit against his parents to recover the $4 million fortune he had made as a popular child actor. However, the law was ineffective and the Screen Actors Guild lobbied to have it amended. California’s new Coogan Law (SB 1162), became effective on January 1, 2000 and it ensures that every time young performers work under an entertainment contract, 15% of the gross earnings will be set aside for them until they reach legal majority. The bill also makes it clear that the earnings of a minor are the legal property of the minor and not his parents.

The provisions of A2716 of the IPA and Article 1611 of the NCA are to some extent based upon the legislative provisions in the Provinces of Ontario and British Columbia, in that they are both designed to ensure that 25% of all Minor’s lifetime earnings over $5,000 will be available to the child when they reach the age of majority.

The rights and interests of Minors now defined in the IPA and NCA as performers under the age of 18, have always received special attention in the ACTRA collective agreements. There is one Article in the IPA, Art. 27, which contains a detailed code regarding the engagement and treatment of Minors on set.  In 1999 ACTRA made the reform of Art. 27 one of the central issues in bargaining. As part of this broader strategy to significantly improve and enhance the Minors’ rights, Art. A2716 was negotiated into the IPA and more recently the same language was negotiated into the NCA.

2.Why not let the Government do it – like in BC and California?

ACTRA, as a democratic organization, feels strongly that it is often in a better position to protect the interests of its members. In fact the raison d’être of ACTRA is the representation of performers and the promotion of performers’ rights, contractual, statutory or otherwise.

As an example, when it became obvious that actors were being ill-served by the Insurance industry, who did not understand the particular needs of artists who are often independent contractors, ACTRA created the ACTRA Fraternal Benefit Society (AFBS).  The AFBS has been a resounding social and financial success.  In the case of the ACTRA Minors’ Trust, ACTRA knows it can do a better job than Governments – even if Provincial legislatures had the will to enact laws to protect Minor’s earnings.  ACTRA is closer and more accountable to its members and understands their needs.

The ACTRA PRS Minors’ Trust ensures that each of the Minors’ Trust investments are efficiently administered and that the fundamental values of transparency and accountability are respected.

3. What will happen to the 25% contribution from a Minor’s earnings?

Under the direction of ACTRA PRS and trusteed by the ACTRA PRS Board of Directors, funds in ACTRA PRS Minors’ Trust are held in safe savings accounts, where every dollar invested in the Trust Fund is protected and guaranteed. The ACTRA PRS Minors’ Trust holds the preservation of contributions as it number one goal. Therefore, the Trust has different goals than an investment trust where the returns may be higher, but where the principal may be lost.

All Minors’ Trust Funds are insured under the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario. Should any account reach the $250,000 limit for such insurance, a second and any subsequent account required will be opened for the minor in to maintain a fully insured trust. This provides the Trustees (ACTRA PRS Board of Director) and the Beneficiary the comfort of knowing that their funds are secured as they are insured by the Province of Ontario.

4. What is this going to cost me?

There are no annual administration fees payable to ACTRA PRS or its service providers.  There is a processing fee of two percent (2%) payable at the time the Minor’s contributions are remitted to ACTRA PRS. This processing fee is calculated on the total contributions.

5. May I as a Parent or Legal Guardian, opt out of the ACTRA Minors’ Trust on the grounds that I want different investment options than those provided by ACTRA PRS, or if the minor has a need for the monies before he/she reaches the age of 18?

If a Parent or Legal Guardian is able to satisfy ACTRA PRS that there is an established irrevocable trust, ACTRA PRS may grant an exemption.

Under exceptional circumstances, ACTRA PRS may allow funds to be made available to a Minor provided that there is a demonstrated and dire need to encroach upon the Trust monies. Exceptional circumstances may include medical or psychological needs, or post-secondary education.

Application Forms for either of the above will be made available to the Parent or Legal Guardian, upon request to ACTRA PRS.

6. Can I have the option to make additional contributions directly?

ACTRA PRS has available for any Parent or Legal Guardian, the necessary forms to make additional contributions directly.  Once the voluntary contributions have been remitted to ACTRA PRS for deposit in the Trust, these monies are subject to all of the rules and regulations established for the Minors’ Trust.

7. Do we need tax advice?

Monies earned while the funds are held in trust are taxable.  We recommend that you obtain tax advice.

8. Can I get an updated balance for the funds held in trust?

All beneficiaries of the fund will receive a printed and mailed annual statement in the first quarter of the calendar year detailing and summarising gross and net contributions, interest earned, as well as the opening and closing balance of the beneficiary account during the most recently completed calendar year.