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Thursday vote on return of film tax credits

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A vote is set for Thursday in the state Assembly on the Garden State Film and Digital Media Act.
A vote is set for Thursday in the state Assembly on the Garden State Film and Digital Media Act. - ()

It's been eight years since New Jersey offered tax credits to incentivize producers of films and television series to shoot in the Garden State, but that may be about to change.

A vote is set for Thursday in the state Assembly on the Garden State Film and Digital Media Act, which would provide credits against corporation business taxes for certain films and digital media content in the state.  

Bills in both houses – one sponsored by Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-37th District, and the other by Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson, D-37th District – sped through their respective committees, leading to optimism for Thursday’s vote.

“We want movies and TV shows to be filmed and produced in New Jersey,” Weinberg said in a statement. “They create jobs and economic activity and become part of the state’s cultural identity. There is a lot of competition among states to attract filmmakers, and industry executives say that tax incentives are often the deciding factor. Reauthorizing and expanding the state incentive program should be a top priority.”

The bill provides that no more than $75 million in tax credits can be granted for qualified film production expenses for fiscal year 2019 and in each year thereafter prior to fiscal year 2024, and no more than $10 million in tax credits for qualified digital media content production expenses in the same time period. 

Johnson attributed the change of fortune to some modifications made to both bills to spread incentives to both ends of the state.

“That’s why we’re where we are now, going for a vote on the floor of the Assembly,” Johnson said, adding he believes the two bills can easily be consolidated.

In contrast to the 20 percent tax credit program created in 2005 and then suspended by former Gov. Chris Christie in 2011, the new legislation affords allowable credits up to 30 percent of the qualified film production expenses or 20 percent of the qualified digital media content production expenses. That increases to 35 percent and 25 percent, respectively, in eight counties: Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer and Salem.

The last productions in New Jersey to receive state incentives include WWE's Hell in a Cell event in 2009 at the Prudential Center in Newark; the 2009 feature film “Chlorine,” starring Kyra Sedgwick; and the NBC series “Law & Order: SVU,” which received more than $10.2 million in tax credits for 2009-10 season.

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