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CA Commercial Tax Credit Bill Still Alive in Sacramento

The Association of International Commercial Producers (AICP) has updated its membership about efforts to pass SB 370, the Golden State Commercial Tax Credit Program. After meeting with members of the Senate Governance & Finance Committee in Sacramento, the organization remains confident that commercial production is recognized by lawmakers “as a statewide economic generator of revenue and employment for California.”

One remaining impediment to passing commercial tax credit legislation is the question of where the money would come from. Proponents are seeking $15 million in annual funding for the credit program. There are three possibilities for obtaining those funds:

  1. Take the $15 million out of the existing $100 million already allocated to the film tax credit. This is the least likely to fly in Sacramento or Hollywood, as it would tap the already limited funds available to productions seeking the film tax credit.
  2. Add $15 million to the $100 million cap, and roll the two credit programs together.
  3. Find a separate funding source for the $15 million, and make the commercial tax credit a standalone program.

Based on talks with the senate committee, the AICP has identified the third option as the way to move forward, having agreed with labor unions and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) “to seek a standalone tax credit that reflects the unique business model and nature of our industry.”

To bolster its case, the AICP is seeking letters of support for SB 370 from member companies. Forty-three member companies submitted letters that helped get the legislation written initially; the association says additional submissions will help strengthen the economic argument for a commercial tax credit in California. Particularly of interest are anecdotes about commercial production that has been taken out of state due to tax credits elsewhere.

The AICP has provided a draft letter here. If you want to submit a letter, you can print it on company letterhead and send it to:

The Honorable Ted Lieu
State Capitol, Room 4061
Sacramento, CA 95814

The association also requests that you send a PDF copy of letters to davidp@aicp.com.

NY Commercial Tax Credit Extended Through 2015

Statue of LibertyThe AICP has announced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s approval of a three-year extension to the Empire State Commercial Production Tax Credit. The extended credit, which appears to have been made retroactive to January 1 of this year, will run through 2015. Launched in 2007, the program as led to a net 3% increase in commercial production activity in the state, according to the AICP. The extension was included in Cuomo’s state budget bill, agreement on which was reached Tuesday.

“It’s an honest, straightforward document that exhibits the fiscal discipline and fiscal integrity that we’ve been talking about,” said Cuomo of the agreed-upon budget. “It also evidences the priorities we’ve been talking about. It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs; it’s all about economic development.”

The program’s renewal maintains the full $7 million a year funding that producers have come to depend on. The legislature made some minor modifications to this year’s bill, including increasing the amount eligible to companies with productions in upstate New York. Additionally, flexibility has been established between the upstate credit and growth credit in years when the growth pool has a higher demand, and the upstate credit is undersubscribed; providing interchangeability of the pools so unused funds are no longer lost.

According to the AICP, the program is divided into three available pools:

• Downstate jobs credit: Provides $3 million annually to eligible commercial production companies whose principal place of business is within the metropolitan commuter transportation district. The credit is 5% of the total production costs exceeding $500,000 and is distributed on a first come, first serve basis.

Upstate jobs credit: Provides $3 million annually to eligible commercial production companies whose principal place of business is outside the metropolitan commuter transportation district. The credit is 5% of the total production costs that exceed $200,000 and is distributed on a first come, first serve basis. This pool had a previous annual allocation of $1 million.

Growth credit: Provides $1 million annually to all eligible commercial production companies and allows eligible companies to receive a 20% credit on the difference between the total qualified production costs of the current calendar year that are greater than the total amount of production costs of the preceding calendar year. This pool had a previous annual allocation of $3 million.

“I applaud the ongoing support of the commercials business in the State of New York,” said AICP President and CEO Matt Miller. “The unwavering support of the legislature and the Governor for our business – and to the employment of New Yorkers – illustrates their appreciation of the economic impact that our sector has on the state’s economy.”

He went on to acknowledge State Senator Marty Golden of Brooklyn, and Assemblyman Joe Morelle of Rochester, who both introduced legislation in their respective legislative branches, in case the extension was not worked out in the state budget.

The AICP presented 2009 as a sample year, showcasing the dollars and jobs that participating production companies brought to the state via the tax credit:

• 458 projects filmed in New York
• Over $101 million spent in-state by participating companies
• Average total in-state spend per company was $3.4 million
• Over 15,000 jobs generated
• Over 45,000 employment days (1,690 per company) and over 548,000 hours of work

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