Officials with Georgia’s Economic Development and Revenue departments also said they agreed with some of the audits’ recommendations and are working to implement them.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development is responsible for determining which films and TV projects are eligible for the tax credits. The state Department of Revenue implements and administers the credits.
Georgia has grown its film industry by giving the country’s most lucrative credits for film work — up to 30%. About $4 billion in tax credits have been handed out in Georgia.
But those in the film and TV industry seeking tax credits are not required to be audited by the Department of Revenue, though officials with some of the larger projects will volunteer to undergo the process. State auditors said any production seeking the credit should be audited.
Chester Cook, the director of audits for the Georgia Department of Revenue, said he has a staff of 10 auditors who exclusively work on film tax credits.
“If you decide to go that route, we need to work closely with the department and our industry partners to look at the ramp-up period,” he said. “That would be a tremendous increase in the number of audits.”
Department of Economic Development attorney Andrew Capezzuto said the agency has already implemented some of the recommendations from state auditors. He said the agency was no longer using an outdated formula to determine a film project’s financial benefit to the state. Capezzuto said the department also has changed its forms to track how many film and TV jobs go to Georgia residents.
State Rep. Randy Nix, a LaGrange Republican, said he disagreed with those who have called for limiting the tax credit.
“When people come back and tell me, ‘Well, the state is giving away $667 million’ … that $667 million comes from $4.6 billion,” Nix said. “They look at just the tax credit and they don’t recognize it’s a push-pull thing. You eliminate the tax credit, the $4.6 billion is not there.”