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Around Town: State tax credit for TV/film industry a good idea

March 23, 2011|By Anita Brenner

Local Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) did a good thing last week. On Friday, he chaired an informational hearing at the Pasadena City Hall concerning tax credits for the film industry.

Until the late 1990s, California’s entertainment industry stimulated our regional economy with local film shoots and local production. Incentive programs in other states and in Canada have lured away a lot of that business. A recent report in “Variety” notes that due to tax breaks, “the recent box office hit ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ was shot almost entirely in Louisiana, because rebuilding the Santa Monica pier was more affordable than filming on-location.”

Assemblyman Portantino wants to extend an existing California tax credit for the entertainment industry; the credit is currently due to expire in two years. Portantino wants to encourage local film locations in order to stimulate our economy.

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The tax credit extension is not just a good idea, it’s a great idea.

The relationship between the film industry and the state of California can be summed up by an old saying: “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

The industry has traditionally been so local, so entrenched, that we took it for granted.

It’s a sad day when California film producers decide to leave the state because of red tape.

It’s even sadder when they leave due to the high expense of local production.

Consider the stateswe’re competing against: The New Mexico Film Office offers “the most straightforward, uncomplicated tax rebate program in the country with full assistance by the State Film Office and Taxation & Revenue throughout the entire process.” There’s a 25% rebate, no sales tax and free listings for proposed locations. It’s all online. It’s easy. There’s no red tape. See www.nmfilm.com/filming/incentives/tax-rebate.php

“Battle: Los Angeles” was a coup for Louisiana, which bills itself as the “global leader” in film locations. Its website offers a similar one-step plan with incentives. There’s even an online list of the dozens of shows currently filmed in that state, including “Battle: Los Angeles.” See louisianaentertainment.gov/film.

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