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Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 12:11pm

Does Georgia Need More Tax Breaks?

Some Georgia businesses say new tax breaks could turn their field into the next film industry. But experts say the incentives that brought Hollywood productions to Georgia may not make sense in other industries.

State officials say the film tax credits have put Georgia on the map for movie production.

And now everyone’s looking to duplicate that success – even in fields that are doing pretty well.

Michele Rhea Caplinger heads the Georgia office of the Recording Industry Academy, which awards the Grammys. Speaking this week at a meeting of the state’s competitiveness initiative panel, she named a few ways to help the industry grow.

“Post production incentives. Public-private partnerships and grants. Live music credits for festivals and concerts,” she said. She added a sound stage would also go a long way toward attracting more productions.

But state officials pointed out that the industry is already growing by leaps and bounds.

Allan Essig heads the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. He says the film tax credits shouldn’t be a model for other incentives – not yet.

“There’s never been a real cost-benefit analysis of what the impact has been,” he said in a phone interview. “There’s never been anything saying exactly how many jobs, the wages of the jobs, or are the jobs permanent.”

State officials say while tax breaks are often controversial, without them Georgia can’t compete with other states.

Essig says the incentives may do their job. But he says taxpayers have no way of knowing.

“Before we either expand the film tax credits or make them a model for other tax credits, we need to have some data, and a real, impartial cost-benefit analysis,” he said.

Gov. Nathan Deal has asked lawmakers for new tax reform ideas for the next legislative session. The competitiveness initiative panel will vet those ideas and make recommendations.