Georgia lawmakers review state’s TV and film credit

While most states cap their incentives, Georgia’s film credit has no cap.
Georgia lawmakers review state’s TV and film credit
Published: Oct. 16, 2023 at 11:59 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 16, 2023 at 12:18 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Georgia lawmakers are already reviewing all of the state’s tax incentives, months ahead of the legislative session.

That includes the state’s TV and film credit, which is Georgia’s largest tax incentive. While most states cap their incentives, Georgia’s film credit has no cap.

Supporters say it’s great for enticing production companies to film in the Peach State, but opponents say it costs Georgia taxpayers big bucks each year.

Georgia has been working to entice TV and movie producers since 2005, when then-Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a generous tax incentive program. Since then, the tax credit for production companies has only increased – now up to 20% – with an extra 10% if the film includes the “Made in Georgia” logo in the credits.

State Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) wants to keep things exactly as they are, in effect saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

“Tax credits encourage them to move here, and we want to keep them here,” James said. “Because it’s not just for the film; everything from catering, hair stylists and makeup artists, to the ones who build the sets.”

In fiscal year 2023, 390 productions were filmed in the Peach State with $4.1 billion in direct spending going into Georgia’s economy.

“It’s a win-win for the state of Georgia,” James said. But not everyone agrees.

State Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) said offering tax incentives is useful when developing a new industry, but he said it makes less sense to continue pouring money into a mature industry like film and television.

“The film industry has brought jobs to Georgia but when you say 1/12th of Georgia’s income tax versus an industry that’s half of one percent, it seems excessive,” Hufstetler said. And right now, he said the state’s film tax credit is costing every household in the state about $300 per year.

“So, we’ve got to get a little better control of it and not have an unlimited program that puts us at risk,” he said.

In 2022, Hufstetler proposed capping the film tax credit at $900 million per year, but his legislation didn’t make it out of the Senate.

This year, he doesn’t know if he’ll propose a cap, but he will try and make some modifications to the current program.

“It will be looked at for how we can get a program that is a little bit closer to breaking even for the state of Georgia,” Hufstetler added.

Hufstetler’s plans are sure to be met with some opposition.

“I want to see us continue to build in that area,” James said. “This is not going to hurt us. It can only help us.”

A joint House and Senate panel currently reviewing all of the state’s tax incentives is expected to issue recommendations in January, just as the legislative session kicks off.

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