Lights, Camera, Action and Tax Cut! Spotlight on California’s Film Tax Credit Program

In a pivotal strategic effort to mitigate the exodus of filming to other states and countries, California lawmakers take aim to quadruple tax subsidies for location shooting to $400 million a year.

On Thursday, August 14th, Legislation was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee with a 5-0 vote which would eliminate a controversial system in which film and television productions were awarded tax credits based upon a lottery system, regardless of the economic effect of the production. The bill, AB 1839, must still be approved by the full Senate and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. However, legislative supporters indicate they are highly confident the measure will clear all remaining hurdles, saying there is widespread acknowledgment that California is quickly losing one of its signature homegrown industries to other states as well as other countries due to competing advantageous movie production tax incentives offered outside of California. As a reference, most states now offer lucrative movie production tax incentives for filmmaking, awarding over $1.5 billion in film-related tax credits, deductions, rebates and grants in 2013, up from $2 million just a decade ago.

It should be duly noted that feature film production in Los Angeles County has fallen by half since 1996, and the region’s share of television pilot production has fallen 73% since its peak in 2007, according to FilmL.A. Inc. Hollywood’s production community hailed the legislative update as the bill “underscores a commitment to the hardworking men and women of California’s film and television production community and to putting an end to the loss of these jobs,” said a statement from the California Alliance, a coalition of entertainment unions, vendors and studios. “There is no question this will make a difference,” said Bill Mechanic, a veteran film producer and former chief executive of Fox Filmed Entertainment. “This is good for California.”

About the Author
Peter J. Scalise serves as the National Partner-in-Charge of the Federal Tax Credits and Incentives Practice at SAX CPAs LLP. Peter is a highly distinguished member of the Accounting Today Top 100 Influencers and has approximately thirty years of progressive Big 4 and Top 100 public accounting firm experience developing, managing, and leading large scale tax advisory practices on a regional, national, and global level.
Peter also serves as a passionate philanthropist and a member of several Boards of Directors and Boards of Advisors for local, regional, and national charities in connection with poverty and hunger alleviation; economic development; environmental conservation; health and social services; supporting veteran and military service personnel along with preserving arts and cultural programs.

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