Mass. seeks to expand film tax credits

BOSTON – A package of tax incentives intended to make the Bay State a more attractive destination for movie and television projects was unveiled yesterday afternoon by Gov. Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi.
Massachusetts is one of 40 states – including Rhode Island and Connecticut – that already have enacted some sort of movie tax credits.

The legislation unveiled yesterday would expand the tax credits approved in 2005. “The film tax credit has been one of the Legislature’s most successful methods for motivating the industry to make Massachusetts the backdrop for numerous movies,” Murray said in their joint announcement.
The state has attracted three film projects in the 15 months since those credits became available, the officials said, versus only four studio films in the previous seven years.

“Massachusetts has a lot going for it – fabulous locations, a gifted and experienced crew base and a long tradition of great movies made here – but the creative economy is extremely mobile, and we cannot stand still in the face of stiff challenges from other states,” Patrick said. “Supporting an expansion of the film tax credit is one major step we can take in attracting the kind of businesses we need to keep our economy vibrant and competitive.”
Under the current Massachusetts law, credits are available only to films costing at least $250,000 and are limited to $7 million per film.
The new proposals would lower the qualifying level to $50,000, making smaller projects eligible, and would eliminate the cap. They would increase the percentage of project payroll against which companies can apply for income tax credits, from 20 percent to 25 percent, and would allow a credit of up to 25 percent of other production expenses.
The legislation also would add “digital media project” to the definition of “motion picture,” making the credits available to a broader array of productions. It would require the Mass. Commissioner of Revenue to report each year on activity generated by the revised credit and the credit’s net effect on state revenue.
“It is not just pride we feel when Oscar-winning movies are filmed here,” DiMasi said. “It means millions of dollars pumped into our economy, local jobs for local workers and a worldwide boost to our thriving tourism industry.” The proposed changes “will produce immediate and long-term benefits for our economy.”

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