Tax incentives worth billions of dollars have helped bring big-budget movies and TV shows to Georgia, but are local taxpayers giving up too much to Hollywood?

Hollywood studios and production companies have already set up shop in Georgia. Atlanta alone is host to some 1.8 million square feet of sound stage, eclipsing New York, and is now second only to Los Angeles. 

Key to Georgia’s evolution into a hub for movies and TV shows is the state’s film-tax credit program, which has drawn film companies to the Peach State with policies that allow them to skip paying billions in taxes. But as with any tax break, questions arise about how much Georgia gives up to attract film companies, potentially at the expense of raising more tax revenues for essential state services like health care and education.

Along with wiping out millions in potential revenues each year, according to those critics, the tax credits have also become a moneymaker for out-of-state film companies that nab so many credits that they end up selling off large chunks of “unused” credits at a profit.

For this story, State Affairs investigated the scope of Georgia’s film tax credits – key aspects of which are shielded by state law – and probed arguments for and against the program’s size to help taxpayers understand what’s won and what’s lost in Georgia’s “Hollywood of the South” incentive structure.

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