New Michigan Film Incentive Legislation Seeks to Create Jobs, Boost Economy

A pair of bills introduced in the Michigan Legislature would create a two-tiered tax credit providing incentives for Michigan-produced commercials as well as film, television, and streaming productions.
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A pair of bills introduced in the Michigan Legislature would create a two-tiered tax credit for Michigan-produced commercials, film, television, and streaming productions. // Stock photo

A pair of bills introduced in the Michigan Legislature would create a two-tiered tax credit providing incentives for Michigan-produced commercials as well as film, television, and streaming productions.

The action comes at a time when more than 30 states offer film incentives and, in turn, receive jobs, economic boost, and peripheral benefits from a multi-billion-dollar industry.

“This is about Michigan jobs,” says Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods). “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 smart investment in our state’s economy and its workers. This is a smart first step to rebuilding Michigan.”

Under HBs 6504-6505, preference is given to state-based companies who 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.
  • Accountability requirements for independent verification of approved expenditures.

“A cross-disciplinary team of Michigan film professionals have worked tirelessly with Rep. Wittenberg for more than three years to draft this legislation,” says Brian Kelly, co-chair of the Michigan Film Industry Association Board of Directors. “This comes at a time when our state most needs good-paying jobs and an economic boost. We can no longer remain idle as film workers leave our state to follow an industry that can provide the stimulus Michigan needs.”

At the end of the 2019-20 legislative session on Dec. 31, if the bill is not signed into law, State Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) announced plans to reintroduce the legislation during the 2021-22 session.

In 2008, Michigan enacted the largest film tax credit (up to 42 percent) in the country. Between 2008 and when it was phased out during the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder, 35 productions were completed.

For more information and a video segment on MiFIA’s advocacy efforts to create a film tax credit program in Michigan, visit here.

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