Does New Jersey need tax incentives to entice the entertainment industry to film in the Garden State? The state Legislature apparently thinks so; the state Assembly joined the state Senate yesterday in approving up to $420 million in tax breaks through July 2022. Previous tax subsidies of this type expired this past summer.
The bill also calls for the Economic Development Authority to study the prospect of developing a film production studio in north Jersey.
New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal-leaning think tank, has been arguing against the tax credit, a rare point of agreement with Gov. Chris Christie, who has vetoed similar legislation in the past. NJPP believes these tax breaks are largely ineffective, since location is the major factor in choosing where to film. NJPP points to Michigan, Florida, and other states that have killed their tax programs for TV and film productions, saying they cost more than taxpayers gain.
Supporters of the program, however, say that may well be the right decision for far-flung states that would have to hire entire crews in those locations. However, New Jersey is competing with New York (which does offer tax incentives) and surrounding states for this type of economic activity. The crews already live in the area; it’s just a question of which suburb or urban street they choose to work in.