TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 7, 2014) — The push to replenish Florida’s tax incentive fund for film, television and other entertainment productions received a needed boost when about 150 people from film commissions statewide and the production industry across Florida showed up at the Legislature to explain the urgency to lawmakers.
“The need for this legislative session to help the tens of thousands of Floridians who work in this industry is crucial because the state tax credit incentive program is out of tax credit dollars. Out of them,” said Jeanne Corcoran, director of the Sarasota County Film and Entertainment Office, who was in Tallahassee for the push with Film Florida, the state’s trade organization. Consequently: “This year is the biggest rally turnout we’ve ever had.”
Their efforts met with resounding success in the Senate when the Government Oversight and Accountability Committee unanimously approved a bill by Sen. Nancy Detert, R- Venice, to put $50 million into the fund each year through 2020 — and then gave a standing ovation for it. A little Hollywood. A little Tallahassee.
The tax credit program originally was planned to run from 2010-2015, but it met with such success that the $296 million in the budget for that time has already been allocated, and the program is now inactive due to lack of funding. That puts Florida at a major disadvantage because about 40 states have these programs and film, television, commercials and other production companies include the incentives in their budgeting bottom lines.
“This is a required business consideration for most production companies,” Corcoran said. And it is for the state, also. “This is about the business of the business, and jobs, jobs, jobs.”
The state’s tax credit incentive is not a grant or subsidy. It is a performance-based tax rebate for a percentage of qualified spending while filming. The rebate comes only after production finishes, provides all documentation and receipts, and after two audits to make sure the rules are followed.
A recent Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) study found that in the incentive program’s first four years, it supported 87,870 jobs, $2.3 billion in labor income and $7.2 billion in economic spending.
The Sarasota County Film and Entertainment Office is a division of the EDC of Sarasota County, which is the private, not-for-profit corporation leading the community’s economic development strategy to add high-wage jobs and diversify the local economy. The EDC provides business assistance to companies in Sarasota County and helps forge solutions to community challenges that affect quality of life. The EDC works in partnership with chambers of commerce, local governments and other organizations throughout the county and the region. For more information, visit www.edcsarasotacounty.com.