Film, TV, and Streaming Incentives Introduced in the Michigan Legislature

Bicameral, bipartisan legislation introduced on Monday in the Michigan Legislature would create a two-tiered tax credit that provides incentives for state-produced commercials as well as film, television, and streaming productions.
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Legislation introduced Monday could create a two-tiered tax credit, incentivizing state-produced commercials as well as film, television, and streaming productions. // Courtesy of the Michigan Film Industry Association
Legislation introduced Monday could create a two-tiered tax credit, incentivizing state-produced commercials as well as film, television, and streaming productions. The 2017 film Transformers: The Last Knight was filmed in the city. // Courtesy of the Michigan Film Industry Association

Bicameral, bipartisan legislation introduced on Monday in the Michigan Legislature would create a two-tiered tax credit that provides incentives for state-produced commercials as well as film, television, and streaming productions.

The action comes at a time when some 39 states offer film incentives and, in turn, receive the jobs, economic boost, and related upstream, downstream, and peripheral benefits from a multi-billion-dollar industry.

From 2008 to 2015, Michigan offered generous film incentives of up to 42 percent per production, but the savings were discontinued after Gov. Rick Snyder and his team determined millions of dollars were leaving the state, largely because out-state directors, producers, and actors had no obligation to spend the money here.

“This is about Michigan jobs,” says Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit. “As we witness the devastation and business losses from the pandemic, we know that attracting an industry that reinvented itself amid the crisis is a wise investment in our state’s economy and its workers.”

Sens. Hollier and Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, along with Reps. Kyra Bolden, D-Southfield, and Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann, introduced the bills to create jobs and retain Michigan talent. The initiative positions the state as an attractive location for film, commercials, and the need for streaming content.

“Bringing the film industry back to Michigan will create more jobs and boost Michigan’s economy,” says Bolden. “Michiganders will be proud when movies made about icons like Aretha Franklin and Motown can be made right here in Detroit.”

The bills give preference to state-based companies that hire Michigan residents. Other specifics of the legislation include:

  • A base tax credit starting at 25 percent for in-state spending with an additional 5 percent awarded for the inclusion of a “filmed in Michigan” logo;
  • A commitment from production companies to spend at least $50,000 for a single commercial campaign or project under 20 minutes or at least $300,000 for productions over 20 minutes;
  • A 30 percent tax credit for hiring Michigan residents and 20 percent for nonresidents;
  • A requirement that qualified Michigan vendors provide proof of brick-and-mortar presence, have inventory, and full-time employees on staff. Pass-through companies and transactions will not qualify; and
  • Accountability requirements for independent verification of approved expenditures.

“The incentives will provide direct economic benefits to Michigan communities,” says Schmidt. “Many states can attest to the fact that film incentives spur additional investment and create jobs and training programs, boost local businesses, and retain talent.”

The Senate bills, SB 862-863, now go to the Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee with the House bills, HB 5724-5725, headed to the House Commerce and Tourism Committee.

“Film production is a manufacturing industry that depends on labor and a range of supporting goods and services to survive,” says O’Malley. “This well-crafted and competitive film incentive program will attract new industry opportunities to our state and support Michigan’s talent base and labor force.”

For more information and video segments on MiFIA’s advocacy efforts to create a film tax credit program in Michigan, visit www.mifia.org.

To become a MiFIA member or support the association’s advocacy effort, contact Lorri Rishar at lorri@edgepartnerships.com or 517-449-7435.

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