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New Jersey is expanding tax credits for film, television and digital media productions in an ongoing push to make the state a top destination for high-profile projects.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday signed into law a major increase in the state’s tax break program, which was extended to 2034, that gives digital media projects credits of up to 35 percent of their expenses in certain counties in Southern New Jersey and 30 percent in the rest of the state. It boosts the annual limit on these tax credits from $10 million to $30 million.
The New Jersey Film and Media Tax Credit Program was created in 2018 and then expanded in 2021 as part of a $14.5 billion incentive package to advance the state’s COVID-19 recovery. Productions such as West Side Story, The Equalizer and The Many Saints of Newark recently filmed in the state.
Motion Picture Association chairman Charles Rivkin said in a statement that the program “grows stronger with new enhancements signed into law last night which will create more jobs in the state and investment into the New Jersey economy.”
“New Jersey has already benefited from the film, television, and streaming industry directly supporting more than 20,000 jobs and over $2 billion in wages,” Rivkin said.
Under the expansion, production companies will also be eligible to get new bonuses for diversifying their film crews and for building new film studios that are in New Jersey for at least a decade. The bill additionally allows an additional $100 million in tax credits for New Jersey film-lease partners from credits authorized under other incentive program beginning in 2025.
Since 2018, the number of film productions that have filmed in the state and have applied for tax credits have increased each year, according to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. New Jersey has approved 49 projects since that time that spent more than $635 million in the state economy.
“The latest legislation further enhances a program that has been extremely effective in attracting motion picture and television production, and production infrastructure,” said executive director of the New Jersey Motion Picture and TV Commission Steven Gorelick in a statement. “Based on the numerous amount of inquiries we are now receiving, it appears that 2022 will another very successful year for New Jersey’s film and television industry.”
But the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services has challenged the alleged economic benefits of the tax breaks. It warned on Jan. 10 that the expansion could reduce state revenue by as much as $20 million annually or $240 million over the next 12 years.
The expansion was signed into law as California continues to face competition from New Mexico, Georgia and other states that have taken to increasing their tax credits to attract film and television productions.
The number of TV shows shot in California dropped by 39 percent between 2020 and 2021 — the steepest decline among the top filming destinations, according to a report by FilmLA.
Gov. Gavin Newsom in July signed a bill adding another $330 million to available film and television tax incentives.
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