Phillip Paquette
Jun 3, 2021

Essential Guide: Georgia Film Tax Credits

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Ant-Man. Stranger Things. Ozark. What do they have in common? Well, other than bizarre creatures, (yeah, Ozark too), these productions all filmed in Georgia. Additionally, they likely all were lucky enough to receive Georgia film tax credits. And if you’re thinking about filming there, your production team can save a little money too. 

In this article, we'll cover the most frequently asked questions around the Georgia film tax credit program. This includes who qualifies for Georgia film incentives and what expenditures Georgia tax credits cover.

First things first...

What is the Georgia film tax credit?

A Georgia film tax credit is a financial incentive that encourages production companies to film in Georgia by providing them with savings (or tax benefits). 

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the governing body that certifies projects which qualify for the film tax incentive. The Georgia Department of Revenue (GDOR) is the department that manages the earnings and claims of the credits.

The tax credit may be used against the taxes your production team may otherwise have to pay in Georgia. If the production company chooses, they can sell or transfer the tax credit to one or more Georgia taxpayers — either individuals or corporations.

Now, you may be wondering: how much is the tax credit? The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act outlines this. 

What is the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act? 

So glad you asked!

The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act (GEIIA) gives a 20% tax credit to companies that spend $500,000 or more in Georgia during production and post-production. This can include a single production or the total of multiple projects aggregated in a single tax year. 

On top of that credit, the state also has a Georgia Entertainment Promotion (GEP) Uplift credit. This is an additional 10% tax credit for certain approved projects that include a five-second-long embedded Georgia logo in the finished and commercially distributed product. This needs to be included in the initial public screening, and the project's promotional website must include this link, (Explore Georgia film site).

Georgia Film Tax Credit - Infographic - Wrapbook


Under the act, the Georgia movie tax credit is available to both Georgia residents and non-residents. There is a salary cap of $500,000 per person, per production, when the employee is paid by “salary,” which is defined by the Georgia film incentives website as being paid with a W2. 

If the production company pays an individual for services as a loan-out, a personal services contract, or a 1099 individual meets the criteria for a loan-out, then Georgia income tax must be withheld and remitted by the production company for those costs to qualify. There is no salary cap on individuals paid through 1099, personal service contract or loan-out. 

Payments made to a loan-out company in 2021 will require 5.75% Georgia income tax withholding.

Who qualifies for Georgia film incentives?

Only production companies are eligible. Fortunately, production companies don’t have to be incorporated or have their headquarters in Georgia. They also don’t need a Georgia bank account to qualify for the Georgia film tax credit.

To earn the 20% film tax credit, the Georgia Department of Economic Development must certify the project (more on this later).

Qualified projects’ distribution must extend outside the state of Georgia and have a minimum of $500,000 qualified in-state expenditures over a single tax year. 

Georgia Film Tax Credit - Eligibility Infographic - Wrapbook

Eligible productions for the Georgia film tax credit include: 

  • Feature films
  • Television films
  • Pilots
  • Series
  • Televised specials
  • Televised commercials
  • Music videos 

Projects that do not qualify for tax credit:

  • Live or prerecorded broadcast of athletic events.
  • Live or prerecorded news or current affairs programming covering news that has recently occurred or is ongoing at the time of the broadcast.
  • Local interview, talk shows or other local interest programming that’s not intended for be distributed commercially across multiple markets.
  • Projects and content consisting solely of footage shot, recorded, or originally created outside of Georgia
  • Content that primarily involves post-production
  • Website development.
  • Corporate marketing, industrial, or training productions.
  • Any productions in violation of Title 16 Chapter 12 of the state’s Obscenity Statute.
  • Sole platform arcade video games.
  • Small scale games embedded and used exclusively in advertising, marketing and promotional websites or micro-sites.
  • Infomercials, infotainment, or solicitation-based productions.
  • Certain instructional or how-to-video based content and programming, as determined by GDEcD.
  • Political or editorial-based content programming.
  • Projects that do not meet the requisite base investment requirement.
  • Marketing or political campaigns.

While interactive games and digital media projects do not qualify for Georgia film incentives, they may qualify for digital media tax credits.  

What expenditures qualify for the Georgia film tax credit? 

To qualify for the Georgia tax credit, production expenditures must be made in Georgia from a Georgia vendor. This can include cast, crew, storyboarding, other casting needs, set design, wardrobe, makeup, props, and location. 

Sound recordings used in qualified feature films, television movies or specials, television series (including motion picture soundtracks produced in Georgia) are qualified expenditures but licensing fees are not eligible.

Post-production expenditures for Georgia-filmed movies and TV projects including editing and color correction qualify under the Georgia film tax credit guidelines, but they must be done in Georgia. 

However, any qualified production expenditures claimed under the post-production tax credit or music tax credit are then not eligible for the Georgia movie tax credit (so in other words, no double dipping on tax credits). 

If you are looking for more information about the post-production film tax credit for eligible post production companies, contact the Georgia Department of Revenue.

Development costs, promotion, marketing, story rights, and legal fees are not qualified expenditures.

View the full list of qualified expenditures on the Georgia Department of Revenue website.

How to apply for the Georgia film tax credit

Georgia Film Office recommends submitting your application as soon as the project is green-lit, fully funded, and ready to open a production office. The Georgia film tax credit program accepts applications for live-action projects within 90 days of the start of principal photography but must be done before the end of principal photography. 

The application for live-action projects will ask you to provide a few things.

To apply for tax credit for live-action, you’ll need:

  • A project description
  • A script
  • Proof of funding
  • Production company contact information
  • Other production details

Within the application for live-action projects, you’ll notice that the Georgia Film Office asks you to agree to supply a few additional things. 

To complete the application, you’ll also need:

  • Final versions of the vendor and crew lists due at principal photography wrap.
  • Final Georgia Location Breakdown List with physical address and contact information due at principal photography wrap.
  • A completed Georgia Expenditures Breakdown form within 90 days of the last qualified Georgia expenditure. 
  • Five production still photos in electronic format with rights cleared and submitted by project release date for promotional use by Georgia Film Office..
  • Three posters designed for promotion of the finished project (if applicable).
  • The end credit roll of a feature, television, or streaming motion picture needs to contain “This project was completed with assistance from the Georgia Film Office, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.” (The State of Georgia also reserves the right to refuse Georgia’s name in the credits of a motion Picture filmed or produced in the state.)

If you are applying for the 10% Georgia tax credit, (the Georgia Entertainment Promotion Uplift credit) you’ll also need to specify where the link to this site will go and where the logo will be placed.

For this, be sure to also fill out the GEP Uplift logo application.

This placement should be located:

  • In the end title credits scroll after contractual agreements and the cast and stunt scroll, but before the start of the below-the-line production crew for independent and feature films.
  • Within the body of the program, the opening title sequence, as a "bumper" into and out of a commercial break, or the end credits for a television or music video project.

Now all that's left is to send it in!

Email your complete application to:

 taxcredit@georgia.org

Or, mail your application here:

Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) 

75 Fifth Street, NW, Suite 1200

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 

Once your application is processed and approved, your production company will receive a certification letter from the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The base certification letter will reflect the 20% tax credit. After the release of your project, if it meets the logo requirements, you’ll receive an additional certification letter for the 10% Georgia movie tax credit.  

If required, under Georgia film tax credit regulations, your production company may be asked to complete an audit before filing a state tax return. Under Georgia House Bill 1037, the requirement that applicants undergo an audit for their projects before claiming or selling a credit will be phased in gradually. 

Audits are required for credits first certified in 2021 and worth more than $2.5 million. This amount decreases to $1.25 million for productions certified in 2022. Beyond 2022, audits may be required prior to claiming, utilizing, or transferring a film tax credit of any amount. 

You can find more information on audits via Georgia’s film incentives page

You can also see a list of certified eligible auditors on the Georgia Department of Revenue’s site

A bill to eliminate the Georgia film tax credit?

Say it ain't so. After all this hard work of applying, could the state be taking it away?

Well, though Georgia House Bill 441 has been introduced because some say it's a financial burden on the shoulders of taxpayers, it will likely have a hard time passing. But we will be checking back regularly and updating this as needed.

Wrapping Up

Gaining Georgia film incentives can be a great way to mitigate other project expenses. 

If you’re hoping to film in Atlanta, be sure to check out our Atlanta film permit guide.

If you’re still weighing where principal photography will happen, see also our California film tax credit and New York film tax credit guides.

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we're all about providing the very best free resources to producers and their crews. However, this post is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Answers do not create a company-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice. Seek the advice of a licensed attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction before taking any action that may affect your decisions or rights.

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About the Author

Phillip Paquette

Phillip Paquette is an Austin, TX-based storyteller and content strategist that's worked both on behalf of agencies and directly with brands. Catch his business musings on Medium.

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