Bill to cap cost of Georgia’s film tax credit doesn’t make the final cut

A bill aimed at tightening oversight of Georgia’s film tax credit failed to pass the General Assembly.

A bill aimed at tightening oversight of Georgia’s film tax credit failed to pass the General Assembly.

A move by Georgia lawmaker to cap how much the state spends each year on its lucrative film tax credit died Friday morning with the final gavel of the 2024 General Assembly session.

Both the Senate and the House had weakened the cap in the final weeks of the session, but in the end even that legislation didn’t get a final vote.

Under House Bill 1180, the state would have capped the amount of tax credits that could be sold by film companies to 2.5% of the previous year’s budget.

Companies would have had to do more to get an extra 10% credit they can now receive for embedding the Georgia logo in projects. They also would have had to meet four of nine possible criteria, such as hiring a certain percentage of crew members from the state, doing 50% of filming in rural areas or using Georgia music performances in films.

But after a strong campaign by the industry’s lobbyists, the chambers took turns making the cap less likely to ever be met.

The failure of the bill was cheered by film officials, who were concerned it could stifle a growing industry.

“Georgia is open for business and continues as a premier destination for film and television production,” said Kelsey Moore, executive director of the Georgia Screen Entertainment Coalition.After much study and debate, the General Assembly has kept in place the tax credit policy that has served the state so well, working exactly as intended.”

The film and television tax credit in Georgia that passed in 2008 has been so generous it drew all major media companies to the state to shoot hundreds of films, scripted TV series, game shows and reality series.

Major TV and film producers to date have embraced the credit for its simplicity and the fact it is uncapped, meaning there is no limit to how much the state can dole out any given year.

But the film tax credit has also been a target at the Capitol because of its cost. The most recent state audit to examine the credit — released in December — said the industry will earn $1.35 billion worth of credits this fiscal year, rising to $1.4 billion by 2029. Meanwhile, the audit said Georgia’s growing film industry creates far fewer jobs than boosters say, and the tax credit costs taxpayers $59,455 per job.

The industry says it’s responsible for about $4.4 billion a year in direct spending in Georgia, and it estimates 92% of the film work done in the state wouldn’t occur without the ability to receive tax credits. Well over half of the states and many countries have incentives to lure film and TV production, and Georgia is competing with those locations, supporters say.

About 97% of the credits are sold by film companies that pay little in Georgia taxes because firms are often based in California and New York. Snatching them up are people or companies that owe state taxes, according to state auditors. Most of the credits are bought by individual taxpayers, the audit said.