Illinois lifts its film tax program deferral to better compete with states like Georgia

Illinois has lifted the deferral of its new film tax applications, which will likely make it a stiffer competitor for Georgia when it comes to luring film and television projects.

Illinois’ tax credit offers 30 percent on qualified expenditures in the the state, including production, post-production and film worker salaries up to $100,000. Georgia also offers an up to 30 percent tax credit to film projects for productions that spend at least $500,000 in the state.

Ill. Gov. Bruce Rauner lifted the deferral Nov. 10 to promote film jobs in the state. There is also a 15 percent “uplift” for salaries of individuals who live in economically disadvantaged areas.

Now prior applications in Illinois can be approved by the film office and new applications can be processed.

The program was brought to a halt in June 2015 over Illinois’ budget crisis. In an attempt to balance the budget, Rauner announced he would defer application approvals on the tax credit, which was set to remain in effect until 2021, according to the The Chicago Sun-Times reported that though production companies spent $2.8 billion in Illinois since the tax credit was introduced in 2008, state records show taxpayers stand to lose $208 million due to the tax breaks given.

States like North Carolina and Louisiana have shown its a risky business to tinker with tax incentive programs. In 2014, the state limited its tax incentives to a grant-based program worth only $10 million after a year when it had covered $300 million in expenditures. The existing program was called into question by the state’s Republican legislature and the Americans for Prosperity group, backed by the ultra conservative Koch Brothers, which claimed the program wasn’t working, according to

Industry workers and productions responded by fleeing to states with more stable incentive programs like Georgia, whose incentive program remains uncapped. One production to leave North Carolina for Georgia was Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow,” which is currently shooting its third season in Conyers, Ga. North Carolina has since tripled its tax credit program to $30 million a year for each of the next fiscal years.

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