Michigan votes to amend and extend film incentives

By Mike Morgan

Michigan’s amended tax incentive bill, calling for an extension of the $50 million-a-year rebate program to 2021, among  other changes, won a Senate 33-4 vote and is now heading for House approval.

Key elements of the bill include:

Tax credits would be capped at 25% of qualified expenditures for movies and other productions, with another 3% of spending at a permanent in-state studio, plus 10% for a qualified post facility.

Projects with budgets of under $15 million would receive 10% of total funding.

Above-the-line personnel would be capped at 30%.

A higher ratio of Michigan workers would be required to qualify for incentives, although a waiver could be sought if qualified workers were insufficient.

A $2 million-per-employee cap on salaries counted as reimbursable expenditures would be lifted, requiring that taxes be paid on royalties and other residual income earned on films made here.

TV shows that currently get subsidies for only two consecutive seasons can apply for more and would receive preference for future funding.

The legislation’s sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, told the Associated Press his goal is to permanently grow Michigan’s production workforce. “We need to build more careers rather than just jobs.”

Meanwhile, The Michigan Film Office approved incentives, ranging from $61,000 to more than $400,000 on under $1 million projects: two features, two TV shows and a sports mobile app.

These are the last of the 27 projects that were awarded nearly $64 million in 2014.  Of these, Warner Bros.’ “Batman vs. Superman” received a $35 million rebate on a $131 million Michigan spend.

Looking ahead: A fourth “Beverly Hills Cop,” starring Eddie Murphy, plans to film in Detroit next spring.  The MFO approved an estimated rebate of $13.5 million based on up to $56,644,792 of projected in-state spending.