ATLANTA – Georgia’s film industry tax incentive generated $8.55 billion in economic impact in fiscal 2022, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by Olsberg SPI, a London-based consulting firm, found the film tax break is responsible for nearly 60,000 jobs and produces a return on investment of $6.30 for every $1 the tax incentive costs Georgia in lost tax revenue.
“This study proves the film tax incentive is working exactly as intended,” said Kelsey Moore, executive director of the Georgia Screen Entertainment Coalition, which commissioned the study. “It’s created high-paying jobs for Georgians, supports thousands of new and existing small businesses, and attracts billions in production spending and investment each year.”
The film tax credit’s return on investment is particularly significant for the General Assembly, which formed a joint House-Senate committee this year to examine all of Georgia’s tax incentives and determine whether they’re accomplishing the corporate investment and job creation for which they were intended.
At the panel’s opening hearing in June, supporters of the film tax credit defended it as a major contributor to the success story of the state’s film industry, which has grown exponentially since the credit was adopted in 2008.
The new study found that less than 8% of Georgia’s film production activity would have occurred without the tax credit. That’s an important consideration when the amount of economic activity a particular industry would have generated without a tax break in its favor – the so-called “but-for” argument – has become a major factor in determining whether a tax incentive is considered worthwhile.
The study also showed that studio construction, which does not receive the film tax credit, created $1.28 billion in capital investment in Georgia between 2012 and last year, bringing the state’s stage space from 45,000 square feet to more than 5.6 million.
The film tax credit accounts for about $1 billion in lost state tax revenue each year, making it by far the most expensive on the books in Georgia.
With that much tax revenue at stake, lawmakers have enacted guardrails aimed at ensuring accountability. Legislation the General Assembly passed in 2020 requires all film productions located in Georgia to undergo mandatory audits.
The amount of attention the film tax credit has garnered under the Gold Dome has prompted industry insiders to point out how much the state would lose without it.
“If alterations to the film tax incentive make our state no longer competitive for production, Georgians all across our state will be the ones that lose,” Moore warned.
“It will leave tens of thousands of Georgians and their families without wages or benefits. It will halt the billions in capital investments and production spending flowing to our communities and small businesses, and it will drive homegrown talent out of our state.”