Massachusetts Film and TV Incentive Program

June 7, 2017

Many of you may have heard rumblings about how the Massachusetts Film and TV Incentive Program may be impacted by upcoming state budget negotiations. To give you sense of the what the incentive program is all about and what changes are being proposed for the program, we’ve put together this overview:

–Established in 2005, the Film and TV Incentive Program allows film companies to become eligible for tax credits if half their production expenditures are made in Massachusetts or if half of their principal photography days are spent in the state, under the law.

–State Senator Michael Rodrigues, a Democrat representing Westport, has proposed, and the state senate has approved, a budget amendment that would require film companies to either spend 75 percent of expenditures or complete 75 percent of filming in Massachusetts to qualify. According to Rodrigues, altering the program would result in saving to the state of $14 million to $15 million per year.

–Massachusetts House Majority Leader Ron Mariano of Quincy has come out against the proposed alteration. According the State House News Service, Mariano said that asking film companies to spend 50 percent of their production costs in Massachusetts is reasonable, but hiking that requirement to 75 percent would “effectively kill it” because the state doesn’t have the capacity to handle a lot of the post-production work. Additionally, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, a Gloucester Republican, spoke out against Rodrigues’s amendment in the Senate before it was adopted, arguing that the program, in its current form, creates good jobs and that productions have filmed all across the state since the tax credit was established.

–The Massachusetts Production Coalition issued a strong statement denouncing the proposed alteration of the program saying, “This amendment will cripple the film tax credit and drive major film production out of Massachusetts, killing a strong and growing industry, costing thousands of local jobs, and hurting small businesses across the state. Major productions that invest in high profile talent, spend the most in the state, create more jobs, buy more goods and services from local businesses, and have a greater economic impact on our cities and towns. The changes in this amendment will make Massachusetts noncompetitive, sending large productions and their good-paying local jobs to competing states.”

–The House budget has no changes to the incentive program. Over the next few weeks the state budget Conference Committee, made up on 3 Senators and 3 Representatives, will work out differences in the Senate and House budget proposals to develop a final state budget to be sent to Governor Charlie Baker.

–On Wednesday, June 14th industry members are invited to go to the State House to ask our legislators to preserve the film and television production incentive and to not make changes to it. Attendees can arrive anytime between 10:00 AM to 12:00 NOON at Church on the Hill (140 Bowdoin Street, Boston). You will receive a packet and any assistance you need to visit your legislators offices. There will not be sign-holding or a speaker program, only legislative visits.

Are you an independent filmmaker looking to learn more about how to take advantage of the Massachusetts tax incentive in financing or budgeting your next project? FC is proud to be sponsoring the DEMYSTIFYING FILM TAX CREDITS WORKSHOP on June 14th at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square. Please join us as tax credit experts on the panel  will simplify and synthesize the process. Space is limited, so early registration is strongly encouraged.  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE AND REGISTER.