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Film tax credit remains intact after changes are removed from bill

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 8:08 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Georgia senators have scrapped a measure that would have capped the state’s film tax credit program.

“The film industry and the cuts and caps and all that stuff has been eliminated from that bill,” said Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga.

Earlier this week, the Senate Finance Committee voted to cap the state’s film tax credit at $900 million. Currently, the tax credits cap at more than $1 billion.

The move would have also blocked film and entertainment companies from transferring or selling their tax credits.

Workers in the film industry spoke out against the change, writing and calling lawmakers throughout the week.

“Let’s make no mistake, had this language passed, the motion picture industry in Georgia as we know it would have been gutted,” said Ray Brown, a production grip, and the president of the production grip and President of the IATSE Local 479 union.

Brown spoke with CBS46 Thursday from the set of the TV show “Panhandle” that’s filming in Savannah right now. “There is no doubt that the motion picture incentive in the state of Georgia is the very reason why these motion pictures are being made here,” he added.

He is thanking senators for taking the film industry out of the tax bill.

“I watched my [union] membership grow from 650 to 6,500 in the last 8 years. That incentive alone should let any senator know that this statistic is working and working well,” Brown said, adding that they are Georgia residents being put to work.

Senate Finance Chair Chuck Hufstetler, under major pressure from the film industry, decided to remove the film industry changes from his tax bill. But, he CBS46 he still thinks the industry cost needs changing.

“It is taking 1 out of 12 of our income tax dollars for a program that is .4% of our workers according to the bureau of labor and statistics,” Hufstetler wrote. “90% of the credits and over 50% of the labor expenditures go to out of state workers. We can keep Georgia competitive without taking such a huge amount of our taxes.”

He pointed to some film teams using the credits to pay for private jets, chefs and trainers.

“Those that are touting private jets and masseuses that would exist in some areas of the motion picture business but it’s a very, very small percentile. I would say that 3 or 4% of motion picture business operate like that,” Brown rebutted. “The show I’m on now in Savannah, there are no private jets, no private cars and no masseuses. We are all here working and making a terrific product.”

Overall, the lawmakers decided to scrap the changes this session and they won’t come up again any time soon. Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, says if Senators have an issue with a tax credit, they are supposed to formally study the impact of the credit and then begin discussions on a possible change. She says this issue was not studied. She was vocal in opposing the bill.