North Texas Daily

Texas film and television incentives need to be more competitive

Texas film and television incentives need to be more competitive

Texas film and television incentives need to be more competitive
March 23
12:00 2021

There is no business quite like show business, except for when it is about making as much money as possible. Then it is exactly like every business around.

Producers want to make every penny count when making movies and television, so it is no surprise when the states with the best industry incentives have the most projects and the accompanying benefits of a creative economy.

Georgia offers a 20 percent tax credit for all in-state costs for film and television investments of $500,000 or more, with an additional 10 percent added if the project embeds a Georgia Entertainment Promotional logo in the titles or credits. California offers a 20 percent tax credit for feature films and new television series originating in California, with an additional five percent each for filming outside of Los Angeles and visual effect spending.

Montana offers a 20-30 percent tax credit for pre-production and production spending that exceeds $350,000 with a $10 million annual cap. New Mexico provides a sales tax exemption on all production costs, a 25 percent income tax credit on in-state film production and post-production costs and a five percent credit on qualifying television series production spending and soundstage usage.

Hawaii offers an income tax credit of 20-25 percent, depending on location, for in-state costs on productions that spend between $200,000 and $15 million. In Utah, productions receive up to a 25 percent rebate or income tax credit if they spend $500,000 or more in-state.

Compared to Texas, where projects can receive an opportunity for a rebate payment of five to 20 percent for eligible spending in-state, an additional two and a half percent is possible if the project uses designated underutilized or economically distressed areas. Meaning, a project done in Texas can only earn up to 22.5 percent in rebates on approved spending of $3.5 million or more, significantly less than the states that lead in entertainment production. The primary issue is that Texas does not collect a state income tax and thus cannot offer the lucrative income tax credits on film and television production spending.

The rebates that Texas offers would come after all the money is spent and allow production companies to recoup some of the associated costs. In contrast, the tax credits in other states would act as immediate discounts for production companies and make it more appealing overall for what could be a multimillion-dollar project spanning a decade or more.

Texas needs to make its film and television incentives more competitive so that more projects will come to Texas. These differences hamper Texas’ ability to cultivate a creative economy within the state and job creation for Texans specializing in entertainment production and associated fields.

Attracting more production companies and cultivating our creative economy should be a priority for Texas legislators. More productions in Texas could mean the revitalization of small towns that host projects with on-site filming and potential tourism after the project has finished.

More importantly, films or television series based in Texas could be done in Texas and push Texan culture to viewers worldwide. Movies and television shows without over-the-top Texan accents, blatant Texas stereotypes and actual Texas scenery would be well worth the cost.

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell

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Steven Nickols

Steven Nickols

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