I’ve got good news and bad news. First the bad news. In early August, lawmakers approved the final piece of the 2010-2011 state budget. While it closed a $9.2 billion budget gap through 90 percent spending cuts and 10 percent new taxes and fees, it wasn’t pretty. It eliminated a sales tax exemption on clothing purchases of less than $110 (which kicked in on Oct. 1). Tax credits of $2 million for businesses were delayed for three years and the New York State Council on the Arts budget lost $6.5 million in funding.
Despite these and other austerity measures, there is good news to report for our industry
The Empire State Film Production Tax Credit Program has been funded at $420 million per year for five years.
Moreover, the legislature passed the state’s first post-production tax credit.
HOW IT WORKS
For those unfamiliar with these programs and how they relate to our members, here’s a brief description of how they work.
When a qualifying film or television production shoots 75 percent of its project in state, it is entitled to a 30 percent tax credit for certain below-the-line expenses incurred in New York State. (The credit does not apply to the salaries of stars, directors or writers – only to vendor and crew expenditures.)
There are some exclusions. This tax credit program does not apply to documentaries, reality shows, music videos, talk shows and commercials.
The details can be found at www.nyLovesFilm.com.
Contractors take note: under this program, the salaries for recording musicians and music editors as well as the fees for the scoring stage (provided the recording occurs in New York State) are qualifying costs. Be sure to explain this to employers so they can budget the scoring on the front end and keep the work here in New York.
Even more encouraging is the passage of New York State’s first post-production tax credit. This program provides a 10 percent tax credit for qualifying projects that complete 75 percent of their post-production work in state.
Previously, production companies who shot their projects elsewhere but wanted to do the post-production work in New York State were not eligible for any tax credits.
Legislatures in other states took notice and passed more inclusive and comprehensive tax credit programs. They have been reaping the financial benefits of New York’s costly omission for years.
This new tax credit program helps level the playing field and will go a long way to restoring lost work in the post-production sector of the film/television industry.
SUCCESS THROUGH ACTION
These tax credit programs didn’t pass by themselves. They are the result of sustained hard work over a period of years by many dedicated people.
Gov. Paterson and the state legislature understood the critical role the film tax credits play in the state’s economy and how they create and preserve jobs in the film/television industry.
Additionally, the combined efforts of the Coalition of Motion Picture and Television Unions, the members of the New York Production Alliance, the Recording Academy, and many other key stakeholders were critical in keeping these programs on the radar screens of every lawmaker in Albany.
It is important to acknowledge that the post-production tax credit is the brainchild of Paul Moore, Eastern Executive Director of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700. He and Local 700 representative Larry Scherer devoted many years and a considerable amount of resources to see this tax credit become a reality in New York State. Were it not for their unwavering commitment and their years of lobbying and coalition building, this invaluable tax credit program would not exist.
Local 802 members should consider these efforts the paradigm for achieving a legislative success that benefits thousands of workers in an important segment of the entertainment industry.
At the heart of this victory is a powerful and effective partnership: the labor movement, employers and government working together to ensure the continued strength and viability of an industry that supports the livelihoods of thousands of working families and touches the lives of millions more.
To get involved in political efforts at Local 802, contact Paul Molloy at (212) 245-4802, ext. 176.