Film tax credit headed for showdown

Senate sticks with pared-back approach


AFTER INITIALLY encountering bipartisan opposition, the Senate Ways and Means Committee’s plan to overhaul the state’s film tax credit program is poised to sail through the chamber into a conference committee showdown with the House.

The Senate on Wednesday afternoon rejected a batch of budget amendments from Minority Leader Bruce Tarr that would have replaced Democratic leadership’s plan to postpone the film tax credit’s sunset, eliminate its transferability, and change eligibility thresholds with permanent authorization for the program as it current functions.

Tarr’s amendments were included in a bundle of economic development-related changes the Senate shot down on a single unrecorded voice vote with no debate. Democrats who also pushed to alter the Ways and Means Committee’s proposal withdrew their amendments without seeking a vote.

The Senate’s fiscal year 2022 budget bill now stands to push the film tax credit sunset date from Jan. 1, 2023 to Jan. 1, 2027, require a production company to spend at least 75 percent of its filming budget or conduct at least 75 percent of principal photography days in Massachusetts, cap salaries eligible for the credit at $1 million, and ban the transfer of the credits.

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Chris Lisinski

Reporter, State House News Service
The topic looks to be a point of conflict between the branches when the House and Senate negotiate a final spending bill in conference committee. During debate of its fiscal year 2022 budget in April, the House unanimously approved an amendment that enshrines the film tax credit permanently by eliminating its January 1, 2023, sunset date without changing any of the eligibility or transferability provisions that the Senate targeted.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Michael Rodrigues said while unveiling the budget to reporters this month that “too much of the money, the tax credits and the benefits of the tax credit, go to out-of-state individuals and out-of-state companies.” Supporters contend that it is a valuable economic development and job-creation tool.