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It 'makes sense' to adjust film tax credit, state official says

In light of audits showing film industry is creating fewer jobs than reported

ATLANTA — The state official who runs Georgia's film tax credit program says it "makes sense" to adjust the program. This, after audits showed the film tax credit was creating few jobs than advertised.  

There’s no question the film industry has created thousands of jobs in the state.  But a state audit released earlier this month said the impact has been “significantly overstated.”

"As the industry has gotten bigger, we need to make sure the tax credit fits the industry in its current form," Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development told 11Alive News Monday.

In 2018, the Department of Economic Development said the film industry’s economic impact was $9.5 billion. The audit said it was more like $4.6 billion – with a net benefit -- minus expenses -- of only $2.8 billion.

RELATED: New audit: Georgia film industry created 9,130 jobs, not 92,000

Instead of producing 92,000 jobs, the audit says the film industry delivered 29,006 jobs. But it said the cost of the tax credit cost the state over 19,000 jobs, making the net benefit barely 9000 jobs.

At a budget hearing, Wilson got questions about what’s believable when officials are touting the value of the state’s film industry incentives.

"I have always been a little nervous about incentive packages in the billions of dollars," said state Rep. Mary Margaret Olive (D-Decatur). We have to have a way to know what the impact of that is overall. Are we really making money for Georgia taxpayers with tax credits and incentive programs?"

RELATED: Georgia film tax break under fire

Wilson said the program has created a robust film industry in the state that has grown "mature" in recent years, with the construction of huge studios and a seemingly-permanent infrastructure.

"The general assembly and the governor made a decision to grow an industry. The industry is booming. The industry is mature. And so of course it makes sense at this point to look at changes."

RELATED: New audit: Too much tax money paid to GA film industry

Wilson wouldn’t make any predictions as to what kind of changes lawmakers would want to make.