Staying in Hollywood and the Big Apple: The Effectiveness and Design of Film Production Tax Credits in New York and California
Tina Xu, Staying in Hollywood and the Big Apple: The Effectiveness and Design of Film Production Tax Credits in New York and California, 2016 Colum. Bus. L. Rev. 426 (2016).
Film production tax credits have become an increasingly common feature of the state tax system. These tax credit programs were originally a response to worries about “runaway production” of films to foreign jurisdictions offering similar incentives. Now, even states with a historical comparative advantage in film production and strong in-state talent and expertise offer sizeable tax credits.
This Note will focus on the film production tax credits offered in states with a historical comparative advantage in filming, specifically New York and California. The Note begins by examining the evolution and expansion of the Empire State Film Production Credit and the California Film and Television Production Credit. Then, it compares the current design of these two tax credit programs, and discusses and critiques economic impact analyses used to evaluate these programs. The Note concludes by addressing whether it is advisable for a state with a historically strong film industry to offer a film tax credit, and which tax design features are appropriate for such a state, paying special attention to how a program determines eligibility for the tax credit, whether the credit can be refunded or transferred, and the credit’s allocation mechanism.