Hawaii has expanded its existing tax credit program in an effort to maintain its globally competitive edge in film production. The Hawaii State Legislature passed a bill in April that increases the existing refundable production tax credit formerly known as Act 88, by 5 percent across the board. Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into law May 31.
Effective July 1, the new law, now known as Act 88/89 provides the following enhancements for qualified productions beginning on or after January 1, 2013:
Increases the base credit amount to 20% for productions taking place on Oahu; and 25% for productions taking place on the Neighbor Islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii;
Increases the per production credit cap to $15 million;
Qualifies productions with Internet-only distribution;
Allows State and County location fees as a qualified expenditure;
And extends the credit's sunset date to December 31, 2018.
Since its initial passage in July 2006, the production tax credit has generated more than $1.6 billion in overall economic activity and an estimated 2,000 full-time jobs annually.
"This enhancement of our tax credit program will prove to be a game changer for Hawai'i's film industry," says Donne Dawson, Hawaii state film commissioner. "It demonstrates clearly that our Legislature and our Governor are serious about bringing more film business to the Hawaiian Islands and taking the industry to new heights." In addition to the amendments to the tax credit this year, the Legislature also approved $3.5 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds for much-needed renovations at the state owned and operated Hawaii Film Studio at Diamond Head as well as $250,000 in CIP funds for a feasibility study to determine the best location for a new digital media complex in Hawaii.
"2013 marks the 100th Anniversary of film production in the Hawaiian Islands," Dawson says. "The extension and expansion of our tax credit at this time is the perfect way to commemorate this important milestone for Hawaii."
The state is in the process of updating forms so look for details of the new law as they become available on the state Hawaii Film Office website at hawaiifilmoffice.com. You can also contact the office at 808-586-2570.