ATLANTA — Georgia’s lucrative tax incentives for movie and television productions could soon expand to homegrown music recordings and international broadcasts of the 2026 World Cup as part of a bill that cleared a House committee on Monday.
The proposed additions to the state’s film tax credit are part of a measure meant to tighten oversight of a program that relieves production companies of having to pay billions of dollars annually in taxes.
House Bill 1037, by Rep. Matt Dollar, R-east Cobb, would require all film productions located in Georgia to undergo mandatory audits by the Georgia Department of Revenue or third-party auditors picked by the state agency.
It would also tighten rules for how film companies could transfer or sell unused tax credits to other businesses, a common practice for production groups that conduct part of their movie-making work outside Georgia.
The measure passed out of the House Creative Arts and Entertainment Working Group on Monday along with a pair of amendments broadening the tax credit’s scope.
One addition to Dollar’s legislation would allow music written, recorded and promoted by Georgians that was used in a film to qualify for the credit.
That proposal was brought by Rep. Beth Moore, an entertainment attorney who said the change would benefit local musicians who currently do not receive all the proceeds from licensing fees film companies pay to use their music.
“Right now, Georgia productions are not incentivized to source the music in their productions from Georgia,” said Moore, D-Peachtree Corners. “They are expending money on music licensing, but that money may be going to artists, record labels and song writers either in other states or even in other countries.”
Another, more contentious amendment to the bill would let broadcasts of major sporting events expected to reel in $50 million for Georgia qualify for the film credit – but only for events held in 2026.
That limitation is aimed specifically at wooing soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, which is poised to decide which U.S. cities will host soccer matches for the World Cup in 2026.
A tax credit that could draw thousands of television broadcasters and journalists to a single location might persuade FIFA officials to pick Atlanta as a host city for several soccer matches when the U.S. hosts the massive soccer tournament, said Marshall Guest, a senior vice president with the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
“It’s tough to put a dollar figure on,” Guest told lawmakers at a hearing on the bill last Friday. “But it’s incredibly impactful and one that would move Georgia forward like the Olympics did (in 1996).”
The chance to cash in on a huge sporting event persuaded Dollar to keep the amendment despite pushback from some lawmakers wary over adding more groups to the tax credit program in a bill meant to tighten the credit.
“I think the easier thing would have been to take it out,” Dollar said. “But I do think that was a worthwhile thing for the state of Georgia to pursue aggressively.”
Dollar’s legislation comes on the heels of back-to-back state audits that slammed the $4-billion program as too loosely monitored. Supporters of the credit point out it still brings huge economic impacts to the state despite the management shortcomings.
“We need some tweaks and fixes,” said Steve Weizenecker, an Atlanta entertainment attorney. “But this system is working in a good way.”