2006-05-17 / Front Page

Increases For Film & TV Tax Credits

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Increases For Film & TV Tax Credits

After expressing doubts about continuing a very successful tax credit program for the movie and television industry, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced he had reversed his position and is ready to sit down with City Council leaders to discuss legislation to reauthorize and expand the original program.

Edward Reed, Office of the Mayor Mayor Bloomberg on film location with cast of the feature film 'The Nanny Diaries'.

The so-called "Made in NY" tax credit initiative had already been extended in Albany, New York City could opt into it.

The mayor's decision should be well received, especially in Astoria and Long Island City because of the presence here of the Kaufman Astoria and Silvercup Studios which together have ignited a renaissance of the movie-television industry on the East Coast.

The continuation of the tax incentive program has immediate relevance for Silvercup, which is on the verge of launching a $1 billion expansion on the Long Island City waterfront.

In announcing his intention to move ahead with the program, the mayor declared: "Our administration originally designed the film and television incentives program and fought for it, and we are delighted it has been so successful in generating approximately $500 million in production spending in 2005, and creating thousands of good jobs.

"Because of this success, the original allocation of funds had been exhausted earlier than expected. That's why we suggested not only extending the program beyond 2008, but also increasing the funding before 2008. Since 2002, we have dedicated ourselves to expanding New York City's entertainment industry, and expansion of the city's Film Production Tax Credit will help keep the industry growing."

Also warmly greeting the news of the mayor's plans was Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), a major supporter and booster of the movie and television industry.

Gianaris stated: "I am pleased that the mayor has joined those of us who established this important tax break at the state level. The city's participation in this state program will ensure that filmmakers will continue to call New York home and that thousands of jobs will be created throughout the city, especially in Queens."

The mayor said that as a result of the state's 2007 budget, the state and city allocation of tax credits for film and television production has been expanded and extended.

Previously, he explained, $25 million was allocated annually by New York State and $12.5 million by the city.

Under the reauthorization and expansion, the state will increase funding to $60 million annually and the city can increase funding to $30 million annually.

The increased state and city allocations will be retroactive to 2006 and run until 2011, the mayor said.

"What was a $175 million program, of which $125 million was financed by the state over five years and $50 million financed by the city over four years, has been increased by almost $428 million to a total of $600 million, of which some has already been allocated," Bloomberg said.

The program had been created in January 2005 when the mayor signed into law a 5 percent city tax credit for qualified film and television productions. The incentive was so successful, the mayor noted, that by this past March the program had reached its $50 million allocation. The program has yielded a $1.5 billion impact locally and the industry supports employment for more than 100,000 New Yorkers.

To qualify for the tax incentive, a production company must do at least 75 percent of its work on a film in the city.

Adding the state's 10 percent tax incentive to the city's 5 percent brings the total benefit for film companies to 15 percent.

In addition to the tax credit, the "Made in NY" incentive progam includes a marketing credit which provides productions with free outdoor media to support their releases and a discount card for production companies that offers discounts at nearly 500 vendors in all five boroughs, intended to steer production business to local communities.

The mayor's announcment about continuing the program comes as Silvercup Studios is approaching the start of its major expansion, which will cover more than two million square feet on the Long Island City waterfront.

The project will include studios, media-related office users, cultural facilities, extensive high-rise luxury housing, a catering facility, a 1,400-space parking facility, restaurants, a health club and more than two acres of public open space to which the public has not had access in more than 100 years, including a waterfront esplanade.

Sponsored by Silvercup owners Alan and Stuart Suna, the building plan recently had a public hearing before Borough President Helen Marshall. Her recommendation is anticipated soon.

The next step will be a hearing before the City Planning Commission on Wednesday, May 24, in Manhattan. Various zoning proposals and a draft environmental impact statement will be on the agenda, according to a Silvercup spokeswoman.

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