Film and TV Tax Credit Battle Heats Up Across U.S.

July 19, 2018Article
The Hollywood Reporter

When New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on July 3 signed film and TV tax credit legislation that would allocate up to $85 million per year over the next five years to projects in the state, he pledged that the move would allow the state to “regain a competitive footing.”

“Currently, productions get the most benefit in California, New York, Georgia, Louisiana and New Mexico,” say Glenda Cantrell and Daniel Wheatcroft, authors of a new book on tax incentives. "These states all have developed a stellar incentive program.” New Jersey hopes to make it onto that shortlist, too. Meanwhile, Elsa Ramo of Ramo Law, who does a lot of independent film work, cites Ohio and Utah in addition to several of the better-known locations.

The idea behind these efforts is simple: The producer gets a tax credit equal to some percentage of qualified production expenditures. “But the devil is in the details,” says Greenberg Glusker entertainment tax lawyer Sky Moore. The percentage varies, but 20 percent to 35 percent is typical. What expenditures qualify? Usually only expenditures within the jurisdiction, but that too varies, and sometimes there’s a cap (especially on above-the-line salaries), a minimum spend, or both. So a higher percentage may not necessarily be better. It’s all a case-by-case analysis.