Film industry officials say productions may not come to Hawaii amid tax credit cap

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In January, the law changed, putting a cap on the amount of tax credits productions can claim. This is currently set at $35 million dollars.

The Hawaii State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson says, this is causing filmmakers to look for other locations. 

“We do have anecdotal evidence that it is generating concern within the industry because thats all anyone can talk about. That’s all they’re concerned about right now,” said Dawson.

Last year, officials say there was an estimated $825 million economic impact from film productions. She says this is partly due because filmmakers knew about the cap and were hoping to complete production ahead of time.

The new rule was put in place after concerns that the money being claimed under the credit wasn’t being spent here in Hawaii.     

Before the new rules took place, there was no limit on the amount of money that could be claimed under the tax credit program. 

Productions on Oahu have a 20 percent tax break and other islands have a 25 percent tax break.

Dawson says the tax breaks are a key incentive to bringing productions here.

“There are a lot of choices out there for productions to go and they are going to go where they can get the most bang for their buck,” said Dawson.

Since the cap will be implemented each year, Dawson says some productions would have to wait to get the full tax break. 

While films like the Jumanji sequel have chosen to film here this year, it didn’t come without concern. 

“There have been discussions with their tax production and planning people about the tax credit program, about the $35 million cap, about the process by which that cap is going to be allocated, the estimated time period that its going to take for them to receive,” said Dawson. 

There are currently two bills in the legislature, SB 33 SD3 HD2 and SB 365 SD2 HD1, that would change the $35 million cap, though a new proposed amount hasn’t been set yet.
 

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