New House Bills aim to bring back tax credits for film, television, digital media production in Michigan

Film incentive legislation focused on creating jobs, boosting economy

DETROIT – State Rep. Robert Wittenberg, introduced Thursday two House Bills that would create new tax credits for media production in Michigan.

House Bills 6504 and 6505 would create a two-tiered tax credit that provides incentives for Michigan-produced commercials as well as film, television and streaming productions.

“This is about Michigan jobs,” Wittenberg said. “As we witness the devastation and business losses from the pandemic, we know that attracting an industry that reinvented itself amid the crisis is a smart investment in our state’s economy and its workers. This is a smart first step to rebuilding Michigan.”

The bills would give preference to state-based companies who hire Michigan residents. It also would include:

  • A base tax credit starting at 25% for in-state spending with an additional 5% awarded for the inclusion of a “filmed in Michigan” logo.
  • A commitment from production companies to spend at least $50,000 for a single commercial campaign or project under 20 minutes or at least $300,000 for productions over 20 minutes.
  • A 30% tax credit for hiring Michigan residents and 20% for nonresidents.
  • A requirement that qualified Michigan vendors provide proof of brick-and-mortar presence, have inventory and full-time employees on staff -- Pass-through companies and transactions will not qualify.
  • Accountability requirements for independent verification of approved expenditures.

The House Bills would create similar incentives to the Michigan Film and Digital Media Incentive, which was signed into law in 2008 by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm. During that period, 35 states provided media incentives and Michigan became one of the top three competitors.

A report authored by Ernst & Young, found that 2,631 film industry jobs had been created in Michigan 2009 and 3,860 jobs in 2010, and that economic activity was increased 6 to 1 for every incentive dollar spent.

Five of the top 10 most successful movies shot in Michigan were made during that period.

“A cross-disciplinary team of Michigan film professionals have worked tirelessly with Rep. Wittenberg for more than three years to draft this legislation,” said Brian Kelly, co-chair of the Michigan Film Industry Association Board of Directors. “This comes at a time when our state most needs good-paying jobs and an economic boost. We can no longer remain idle as film workers leave our state to follow an industry that can provide the stimulus Michigan needs.”

State Sen. Adam Hollier announced plans to reintroduce the legislation during the 2021-22 session if the bill is not signed into law at the end of the 2019-20 legislative session.

More information on the potential benefits of a new Michigan film tax credit can be found on the Michigan Film Industry Association’s official website here.


About the Author:

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.