Legislation Limiting Film Tax Credit Clears Georgia House

Dave Williams

Friday, March 1st, 2024

Capitol Beat is a nonprofit news service operated by the Georgia Press Educational Foundation that provides coverage of state government to newspapers throughout Georgia. For more information visit capitol-beat.org.

The state House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that would put new restrictions on Georgia’s generous film tax credit.

House Bill 1180, which passed 131-34, would require film production companies to meet at least four of 10 criteria to qualify for an additional 10% income tax credit on top of the 20% base credit the General Assembly enacted in 2008.

TV and film producers would have to spend at least $500,000 on a single production to qualify for the credit. The bill also would limit the total amount of sales or transfers of credits within a calendar year to 2.5% of the governor’s revenue estimate for that year.

In 2007, the year before lawmakers adopted the film tax credit, the film industry generated just $300 million in direct economic impact, a number that had grown to $4 billion by last year.

However, the credit also costs Georgia taxpayers about $1 billion a year in lost tax revenue, more than any of the state’s other tax incentives by far.

“This bill seeks to make this program sustainable,” said state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, the bill’s chief sponsor. “It’s going to make sure the taxpayers of Georgia get the best value for their bucks.”

But Rep. Long Tran, D-Dunwoody, who works in the film industry, said the proposed restrictions on the tax credit would hurt an industry that is paying huge dividends in Georgia.

“We have grown into a competitive industry, third in the world, because we do not have a cap,” he said. “This will stagnate our industry.”

Rep. Derrick Jackson, D-Tyrone, said passing the measure would have ramifications far beyond just the film industry.

“This bill sends the wrong message to all businesses that Georgia’s commitments are subject to change,” he said.

But House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire, said the bill balances the interests of filmmakers and taxpayers.

“This is a very measured and efficient approach,” he said.

House Bill 1180 now moves to the state Senate.