Are Georgia film tax credits worth their high cost?


Georgia gives hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to lure movie and TV productions to the state, but has no process to assess whether it’s getting enough bang for its buck, according to a national study released Wednesday.

The report by The Pew Charitable Trusts lists Georgia among 23 states that lack well-designed plans to evaluate whether their investment of taxpayer money is paying off.

While there’s no doubt that the tax credits brought movies such as “Captain America: Civil War” and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” to Georgia, it’s unclear whether the tax forgiveness is worth it, according to the report titled “How States are Improving Tax Incentives for Jobs and Growth.”

The state, which is the No. 3 filming location in the nation behind California and New York, awarded an average of more than $200 million a year in film tax credits in the three-year period from 2014 to 2016, according to Georgia Department of Revenue figures. This year, a Georgia State University study estimates, the tax credit program will cost $376 million.

“Despite the significance of the program, Georgia lacks a process for evaluating the film tax credit and other incentives,” said the Pew report. “Evaluations could help lawmakers determine how well these policies are working for the state’s budget and economy, and for businesses too.”

Though the state government doesn’t conduct a detailed cost-benefit analysis of its tax credit, it does measure their economic impact.

There were 245 feature film and television productions filmed in the state in 2016, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The motion picture and TV industry spent more than $2 billion here last fiscal year and directly employed more than 25,700 people.

Production companies can earn tax credits up to 30 percent of what they spend in Georgia when they meet certain standards.

Andrew Greenberg, the executive director for the Georgia Game Developers Association, said the entertainment industry brings tremendous value to the state, but he wouldn’t object to more rigorous evaluations of the tax credit’s effectiveness.

“The entertainment tax credits have proven their value, and I don’t think anyone is worried what more data would reveal,” said Greenberg, who supports the state’s entertainment tax incentive program, which includes film, music and gaming industries.

The Pew report suggests that Georgia State University’s Fiscal Research Center could provide information on whether tax credits are succeeding. That kind of analysis would help state officials decide whether the incentive policy makes sense, according to the report.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

THE LATEST: Fire destroys DeKalb County day care
THE LATEST: Fire destroys DeKalb County day care

Parents are scrambling to find child care after a fire ripped through a DeKalb County day care and caused the roof to collapse early Monday. The fire that shut down the day care was reported about 2 a.m. at Star Child Learning and Development in the 4000 block of Covington Highway, according to Channel 2 Action News. DeKalb fire battalion chief James...
Heavy rain moves through metro Atlanta
Heavy rain moves through metro Atlanta

Tomorrow: Scattered showers. High: 70 Roads are slick, trees are down and some people are in the dark due to heavy rain across metro Atlanta. “If you think it has rained a lot,” Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Karen Minton said early Monday, “it has.” Since midnight, Atlanta has gotten 1.35 inches of rain, &ldquo...
Lawrenceville approves new assisted living/senior living facility
Lawrenceville approves new assisted living/senior living facility

The Lawrenceville City Council recently approved zoning changes and a permit request to build an assisted living/independent senior living facility on property that fronts the eastern side of Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, adjacent to the southern side of the railroad right-of-way. The land is presently undeveloped and wooded. The applicant, Medical Partners...
Duluth accepting applications for youth police academy
Duluth accepting applications for youth police academy

Applications are being accepted now for the 2018 Duluth Youth Police Academy. The program is designed to educate middle and high school students that live in Duluth about the police department and how officers enforce local and state laws. The goal is to create and develop a relationship with students and give them an opportunity to learn about the...
Gardens police on lookout for woman’s dog stolen from Petco 
Gardens police on lookout for woman’s dog stolen from Petco 

Police are investigating a possible dognapping which took place Saturday at a Petco in Palm Beach Gardens. According to Palm Beach Gardens police, the owner of an 11-year-old Maltese mix named “Teddy” dropped him off for grooming services at the Petco on Legacy Avenue. At approximately 7:53 p.m., a white female with black hair...
More Stories