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California Expands Film and Television Tax Credit Program


 Can tax credits bring back California's film heyday?

The Film and Television Tax Credit Program in California is tripling in size and expanding to cover many previously ineligible projects. The goal of the expansion is to retain and promote jobs in the California film and television industries – jobs that in recent years have migrated from California to states with more generous film tax incentives.

Funding for the tax credit program has jumped from $100 million to $330 million, annually. Additional changes include the following:

  • The elimination of budget caps for studio and independent films
  • The expansion of eligibility to big-budget feature films, TV pilots, and one-hour TV series
  • The creation of a 5% “Uplift” for projects filmed outside the 30-Mile Zone, and for in-state production of visual effects and music scoring and recording.

In addition, California’s existing tax credit lottery is eliminated; instead, selection is to be based on numerous ranking criteria, such as a jobs ratio formula. Projects that overstate job creation will be penalized.

Application periods

Two applications will occur during the 2015-16 fiscal year:

  • May 11-17, 2015: for non-independent TV projects only
    • $55.2 million in tax credits available for new TV series, TV pilots, MOWs, and Mini-series
    • $27.6 million in tax credits available for TV series that are relocating.
    • Credit allocations will be issued beginning July 1, 2015
  • July 13-25, 2015: for feature films and independent projects only
    • $43.8 million in tax credits available for feature films
    • $6.9 million in tax credits available for independent projects
    • Credit allocations will be issued after August 3, 2015

Additional information is available through the California Film Commission, which is overseeing this program.

However, in order to file a claim for the refund of sales and use tax, taxpayers must complete and remit the California State Board of Equalization Claim for Refund and Irrevocable Election to Apply Credits Against Qualified Sales and Use Tax (BOE-318).

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Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.