Fortuño OKs more tax breaks for filmmakers

Written by  //  July 17, 2012  //  General Biz News  //  No comments

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Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake

The Puerto Rico government is making even more tax breaks available to draw filmmakers to the island, which in the last three years has become a magnet for big-budget Hollywood and television productions.

On Monday, Gov. Luis Fortuño signed a package of amendments to Law 27, known as the Film Industry Economic Incentives Law, to strengthen already existing benefits. The newly inked changes include granting a 20 percent tax credit on wages paid to non-resident talent, including producers, directors, writers and on-camera talent.

This credit will complement the existing 40 percent incentive on wages paid to Puerto Rico residents — including workers and service providers — as well as the 20 percent credit on expenses related to non-resident talent.

The current amendment also includes measures to promote the development of technical infrastructure, high-capacity studios and a drastic simplification of the eligibility requirements for the 25 percent tax credit on infrastructure

“In the past three-and-a-half years we have promoted the film industry as never before, putting Puerto Rico on the map as a unique and attractive destination for film and television production,” Fortuño said. “With these amendments we will increase the number of jobs that are produced by this important industry. We’re encouraging job creation and recruitment of local staff for film productions taking place in Puerto Rico.”

The new incentives come as Puerto Rico is being used as the backdrop for Fox/Regency Studios’ “Runner, Runner,” an online gambling drama starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake. The film began rolling in San Juan earlier this month and is expected to wrap in August.

Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson during the filming of “Fast Five” in 2010.

Since March 2011, when Law 27 was passed, the island has hosted 28 big-budget productions that have generated an $80 million investment and created more than 15,000 jobs during filming. The lineup of productions filmed locally include Universal Pictures’ “Fast Five,” Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Losers” from Warner Brothers, and a slew of television series including ABC’s “The River” and “Off the Map,” USA Networks’ “White Collar” and “Royal Pains,” HBO’s “Eastbound and Down,” and Showtime’s “The Big C.”

Prior to Monday’s changes, the incentives offered through Law 27 were limited to producers and high-ranking movie executives. Now, actors and technical production staff can also benefit.

“Puerto Rico had never managed to have such a complete tax incentive package that will position the island as a world class film center,” Puerto Rico Film Commission Executive Director Mariella Pérez said. “It not only provides the best incentives, but also offers the best creative and technical resources and best locations. We’re seeing results, with major productions that are driving the island’s entire film industry.”

Government officials said Puerto Rico is also being promoted aggressively as a film mecca across the U.S. mainland and Europe, which as drawn increased visits from location scouts from several studios including Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Universal, Disney, Sony, Lifetime and MTV.

The new incentives drives a diversification in the portfolio of projects receiving incentives beyond feature films, to include commercials, documentaries, television series and live concerts.

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