Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Georgia House of Representatives approved two tax break bills

The Georgia House of Representatives approved two tax break bills Friday targeting the state's music industry.

House Bill 155, which passed 157-11 and now moves to the state Senate, would offer a 15 percent tax credit for live musical or theatrical performances in Georgia that spend at least $500,000 in a taxable year. Recorded musical performances incorporated into a film, television or interactive entertainment production would get the credit on all spending of at least $250,000 while other recorded musical performances would qualify for a credit on all spending of at least $100,000.

Supporters said Georgia's music industry was left out in the cold while the film industry received generous tax credits during the last nine years that have boosted Georgia to No. 3 in the nation in film production.

"This bill will hopefully keep most our talent in Georgia rather than draining it away to other states," said Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville.

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The bill, sponsored by Rep. Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, includes a five-year sunset provision. The tax credit would be capped at $5 million next year, $10 million in 2019 and $15 million during 2020, 2021 and 2022.

The House also passed a second related bill to exempt music royalties generated in Georgia from the state's income tax.

The measure took a circuitous route to passage. After initially going down in defeat late Friday afternoon, House members voted to reconsider rejecting the bill.

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During the dinner break, Rep. Matt Dollar, R-Marietta, the legislation's chief sponsor, agreed to an amendment clarifying that the tax exemption would only apply during the artist's lifetime and could not go to heirs. The House then passed the bill 97-65 Friday night.

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