Series Introduction (1 of 4)
Written by Mollee D. Harper
“There are a lot of people who have dreams, goals, and hopes, but there aren’t a lot who get to see them realized.” – Tyler Perry
Georgia’s entertainment industry has exploded over the past decade earning the Peach State its new reputation as the “Hollywood of the South”. In addition to the location diversity, local talent and professional support, many attribute this rapid growth to the financial incentives provided by policymakers through the progressive Georgia Entertainment and Industry Investment Act (GEIIA), also known as the film tax credit passed in 2005. The state’s first tax incentive was a point of purchase sales and use tax exemption first introduced in 2002. Although there have been a lot of revisions to the original legislation over the past 10 years including changes to the cap of $25 million, GEIIA is still one of the strongest tax credit programs at the state level for the entertainment industry.
Today, Georgia-based film and production companies receive a tax credit against their state corporate income tax up to 30 percent on money spent on production and post-production in Georgia, with a minimum spend of $500,000. Tax credits can be carried forward for five years, and interactive entertainment companies are eligible to receive an annual credit of $12.5 million for expenses incurred before January 1, 2019.
The state’s entertainment tax credit translates to significant incentives for studios who to do business in Georgia and the reason in part the state is currently ranked as one of the top five film production locations in the country. Georgia sits firm and proud at the top of the list after California, New York and Louisiana in annual entertainment industry production in the United States. Eagle Rock Studios, EUE/Screen Gems, Mailing Avenue Stageworks, Pinewood Atlanta Studios, Triple Horse Stageworks and Tyler Perry Studios all now have major production facilities headquartered in Atlanta, and throughout the state.
In March 2015, five of these major studios came together to form the Georgia Studio and Infrastructure Alliance (GSIA) serving as a legislative and educational advocacy group to support businesses that serve Georgia’s entertainment industry, and help develop local talent to meet growing production demands. The coalition’s first priority is job training in anticipation of providing Georgians with 77,900 new industry jobs.
The results can also be enjoyed through a mounting list of box office hits filmed on location including “Contagion,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Fast and Furious 7,” and “Hunger Games: Catching Fire,”, as well as award-winning television series including “In the Heat of the Night,” “Family Feud,” “The Walking Dead,” “24,” “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” and the new “MacGyver” to name a few. According to the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, more than 700 feature films, TV movies, series, episodes and pilots have been produced in Georgia since 1972.
In 2013, Georgia’s tax credit program was the largest in the U.S. While there is some controversy over lost tax revenue, the state has embraced the benefits in employment, investment and economic growth with open arms. In 2015 alone, Georgia-based feature films and television productions generated an economic impact of $6 billion for the state.
Join me over the next few weeks in the “Exploring Georgia’s Film Industry Tax Credit” Series as I uncover the history of the entertainment tax credit in the U.S., how it works in the state of Georgia specifically, and the exciting results for Georgia in economic growth and national recognition, on and off the big screen.