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Assembly Panel Approves Greenwald, Johnson & Moriarty Bill to Lure More Film & TV Productions to New Jersey to Spur Job & Revenue Growth

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald and Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson and Paul Moriarty to create a powerful new incentive program to encourage more nationally distributed film and television productions to work from New Jersey.
According to the NJ Motion Picture and Television Commission, 946 projects were filmed in New Jersey during 2015, generating $62.5 million for the New Jersey economy.

“This legislation looks to build upon that investment, keep the Garden State competitive in this market place and boost job creation and revenue growth,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “There is more competition then ever from other states and foreign countries that are looking to attract this industry. New Jersey’s location provides a competitive edge and this bill looks to capitalize on that and ensure that we see continued growth in this area.”

The bill (A-2256) would establish the New Jersey Film and Television Project and Employment Incentive Program, which would provide a 25 percent credit for qualified investment and labor costs associated with film and television projects working from New Jersey sets and studios.

“The revitalization of this tax credit will give New Jersey the shot in the arm it needs to once again attract film and television productions that have added so much to our economy in past years,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “We need to fix the mistake that was made when this credit was suspended and create a powerful economic development tool for our state.”

The bill is derived from the original Film and Digital Media Tax Credit Program, which was created in 2005, but discontinued by Gov. Christie in 2011 after he took office.

“The restoration of this tax credit will significantly boost job creation and revenue for our state,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “It will also spur capital investments in our neighborhoods from the influx in talent that typically follows these industries. For communities like Camden and Atlantic City, that are just a stone’s throw from Philadelphia, this is particularly important.”

The refundable credits would be available under either the Corporation Business Tax or Gross Income Tax. Creditable projects would have an annual or seasonal operating budget of at least $1 million and derive at least one-half of creditable costs from studio activity. Additionally, creditable projects would have to be nationally distributed and operate from primary studios and fixed sets in New Jersey. Creditable costs would not include expenses for actors, producers, writers, or directors. Credits are not authorized for costs included in the calculation of another state tax credit or grant.

The bill would cap the maximum amount of New Jersey Film and Television Project and Employment Incentive Program credits to be awarded per state fiscal year to $30 million. At least one-third of the credits allowed annually must be issued to projects in counties with the following indicators of insufficient economic activity: a percentage of persons below the poverty level of no less than eight percent, per capita annual money income of $35,000 or less, and annual retail sales not exceeding $6 billion. Based on the most recent data, the one-third floor allocation of credit amounts for counties with indicators of insufficient economic activity would cover Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem.

The New Jersey Film and Television Project and Employment Incentive Program would apply to tax years beginning on or after the date of enactment. Credits allowed would be applied to taxpayer liability for the second tax year beginning after a creditable project investment and labor demand commences.

The legislation was approved by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee and would take effect immediately upon enactment.