State film tax credit extension clears a hurdle but is scaled back

Lawmakers gave a preliminary thumbs up to a two-year extension of California's film tax credit, a mixed result for Hollywood backers who had pressed for a five-year extension but were relieved to get more money given the state's budget crunch.

By a 5-1 vote Thursday, the Senate Governance and Finance Committee supported a bill that would extend the tax credit, which was due to expire in July 2013, through 2015. The original bill would have provided funding through 2018.

California currently sets aside $100 million annually for dozens of film and television projects applying for credits that cover 20% to 25% of qualified production expenses. The program is limited compared with what many other states offer, in that it excludes movies with budgets of more than $75 million.

Supporters say the tax credit has since its 2009 debut kept productions in California that might have been filmed elsewhere, and is vital to keep California competitive when nearly 40 other states offer tax credits and rebates to filmmakers.

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-- Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times


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