Revolution Resource Center

Tax Incentives

Movie production incentives are tax benefits offered state-by-state throughout the United States to encourage in-state film production.

These incentives are designed to attract filmmakers and production companies to a particular location by offering them certain tax benefits or rebates on eligible expenses incurred during production.

Factors involved in calculating tax incentives

In order to calculate tax incentives, various factors are to be considered, which will also depend on the state or country you are shooting, such as - what is the crew base? How long it takes to get your credit back? What applies to the tax credit - sometimes ATL (above-the-line) doesn't count. What is the minimum spend?

Here are some key factors to keep in mind when calculating film tax incentives:

  1. Qualified Expenditures: Film incentives are often based on a percentage of eligible production expenditures incurred within the jurisdiction. These expenditures can include costs related to pre-production, production, and post-production activities. Qualified expenditures may cover items such as wages, equipment rental, location fees, and other production-related costs. It's important to clearly understand what expenses are eligible for incentive calculations.
  2. Incentive Percentage: Jurisdictions typically offer a certain percentage of qualified expenditures as a tax incentive. This percentage can vary widely, ranging from around 20% to 40% or more of eligible costs. The incentive percentage directly impacts the final financial benefit the production will receive.
  3. Minimum and Maximum Spend Requirements: Some incentive programs may have minimum and maximum spend requirements. Productions need to meet a minimum spending threshold to be eligible for the incentive, and there might also be a cap on the maximum incentive amount a production can receive.
  4. Type of Production: In some cases, the type of production can affect the incentive calculation. For example, incentives for high-budget feature films might differ from those for television series, documentaries, or commercials.
  5. Location and Regional Factors: Incentives can vary based on the specific region or locality within a jurisdiction. Certain areas might offer higher incentives to encourage filming in economically disadvantaged regions or areas with less established film industries.
  6. Job Creation and Economic Impact: Some incentive programs take into account job creation and the economic impact of production in the region. The number of local jobs created, as well as the boost to local businesses and services, can influence the incentive amount.
  7. Capped Incentives: Some jurisdictions may cap the total incentive amount that a single production can receive. This is often done to ensure a fair distribution of incentives among multiple productions and prevent one large production from consuming the entire incentive budget.
  8. Transferability and Refundability: Depending on the incentive program, the benefits might be transferable or refundable. Transferable incentives can be sold or transferred to other entities, while refundable incentives can result in a cash payment if the incentive exceeds the production's tax liability.
  9. Documentation and Reporting: Accurate documentation of expenses is crucial for calculating incentives. Productions need to maintain detailed records of qualified expenditures and provide the necessary documentation to verify the expenses claimed.
  10. Application Deadlines and Process: Productions need to adhere to application deadlines and follow the proper application process to be considered for incentives. Understanding the timeline and requirements for applying is essential.
  11. Compliance and Reporting Obligations: Once the incentive is granted, productions may have obligations to report on how the incentive was used and its economic impact. Compliance with these reporting requirements is often necessary to continue receiving the incentive.
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