Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Changes in Film, Television Tax Credit Worry Some in Industry

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Changes in Film, Television Tax Credit Worry Some in Industry

Article excerpt

The first trailer for "Jack Reacher" was released last week, showing Tom Cruise careening over the 10th Street Bridge and fighting bad guys on Smallman Street in the Strip, and serving as another sign of Pittsburgh's resurgent film industry. A few days beforehand, state lawmakers made tax changes that could impact the industry statewide.

Lawmakers tweaked Pennsylvania's 7-year-old film and TV tax incentive program during budget negotiations last month, sweetening the pot for large soundstages and provoking worries among some in the industry about a negative impact on film jobs.

Officials across the industry credit the tax for bringing films such as "Jack Reacher" or Taylor Lautner's "Abduction" to Pittsburgh, or even to create the atmosphere for blockbusters like "The Dark Knight Rises" that did not seek the incentives. Most would like the state to increase its $60 million pool of annual incentives to its former $75 million level or higher to attract more filming.

Since 2007 the state has offered producers who film 60 percent of their productions within the state a 25 percent credit on taxes. Through September 2011 the state awarded $242.5 million in credits that leveraged $1.4 billion in local economic activity and nearly 14,500 jobs, according to a report the state film office filed with the General Assembly.

In a vote on state tax rates June 30 -- in the same bill that included tax credits for a proposed petrochemical plant in Beaver County -- legislators bumped the credit up to 30 percent for those filming at soundstage facilities that have at least 7,500 square feet of clear production space. They also allowed the credits to be awarded over multiple years, meaning they can be issued to television series for the first time: Until now only one-off TV productions such as reality and cooking shows have been eligible for the credits. …

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