Georgia abandons efforts to limit billion-dollar film incentive | Trending Viral hub


Georgia has abandoned an effort to limit its multibillion-dollar film and television tax credit after the state House and Senate could not reach an agreement on the issue.

Lawmakers have been working for nearly a year on proposals to curb the incentive, which is the largest of any state in the nation. But the General Assembly adjourned early Friday morning without passing a bill on the issue in both chambers.

Lawmakers will now have to wait until the next session, which begins in January 2025, to address the issue.

The failure to pass a bill is a respite for Georgia’s film industry, which relies heavily on the incentive and had been closely monitoring the legislation. The Georgia Screen Entertainment Coalition, which represents studios and other industry stakeholders, praised the result as proof that the state remains “open for business.”

“After much study and debate, the General Assembly has kept the tax credit policy that has served the state so well, working exactly as intended,” Kelsey Moore, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “Our state leadership has sent a clear statement, literally around the world, that Georgia strongly supports the film industry.”

Georgia offers a 30% credit on film and television production costs, which has been used to subsidize hundreds of productions, including Marvel movies like “Black Panther” and shows like “Stranger Things” and “The Walking Dead.” The credit has transformed Atlanta into a major production center, competing not only with California and New York but also with the United Kingdom and Canada.

Unlike most other states, Georgia does not limit the total number of credits that can be issued annually. As the program has surpassed $1 billion in recent years, some lawmakers have begun to worry that it poses a risk to the state’s finances.

In February, the state House of Representatives approved a measure that would limit the number of credits that could be bought and sold each year.

Since most entertainment companies are not based in Georgia, they cannot use film credits to offset their own tax liability. Instead, they sell them at a slight discount to Georgia-based corporations or wealthy individuals. With a limit in place, they could be stuck with credits that they couldn’t monetize.

The House bill faced pushback from studio owners who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new sound stages. They feared that this limit would mean that companies like Disney and Netflix would no longer be guaranteed the ability to sell their credits.

Senate lawmakers responded to those concerns. Last week, the Senate Finance Committee approved the limit, but carved Big exceptions for projects filmed at three major production facilities: Trilith Studios, Shadowbox Studios and Assembly Atlanta.

The change raised concerns among smaller studios that they would face a disadvantage when competing for productions. Some lawmakers also believed that would make the limit irrelevant, because it would never be reached.

And it didn’t sit well with House leaders.

“Turning a fiscally responsible measure designed to protect Georgia taxpayers, in consideration of all stakeholders, into a competitive advantage for three Atlanta-based movie studios was not our goal,” said Rep. Shaw Blackmon, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives. in an email early Thursday. “And that’s what the Senate has done.”

Given the lack of consensus between the chambers, the bill seemed dead heading into the last day of session. But the House tried to save the measure Thursday by killing another bill and amending it with a new version of the proposed limit.

The House measure would have limited the amount of credits that can be transferred to 2.5% of the state budget – or about $900 million next year – with no exceptions for major studios. It was the same as the original bill.

But the new version provided that the limit would be triggered only if the state’s reserve fund fell below 10% of total state revenue. In other words, if the state were to suffer a serious economic crisis, it could trigger a brake on the use of film credits, essentially protecting the state from a bank run.

That limit is not likely to be imposed anytime soon. Reserves have soared over the past three years, reaching 45% of revenue in fiscal 2023. The reserve fund has fallen below the 10% threshold only once since 2016.

The House approved the revised measure by a vote of 170-1 Thursday night. But the Senate adjourned without considering the bill, effectively nullifying it for the entire year.

The Senate committee version also included a provision that would make residual compensation subject to Georgia income tax. That provision would have applied to writers, actors and directors who live out of state but whose work is produced in Georgia.

That was also controversial.


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