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Ohio Film Office  |  Tax Credit Overview and Frequently Asked Questions

Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit – Offering a 30 percent refundable, transferable tax credit

From diverse landscapes to a solid crew base and low cost of living, Ohio offers a vast range of opportunities for your next production. The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit provides a refundable, transferable tax credit of 30 percent on production cast and crew wages plus other eligible in-state spending.

To be considered, eligible productions must spend a minimum of $300,000 per project in the state of Ohio. Production types may include:

  • Commercial
  • Digital Media
  • Documentary
  • Feature Film
  • Interactive Game
  • Interactive Television
  • Interactive Website
  • Interstitial Television Programming
  • Long-Form Specials
  • Mini-Series
  • Music Video
  • Pilot
  • Series
  • Sound Recording
  • Trailer
  • Video
  • Video Game
  • Video Teaser/Demo

To file an application, you will need the following information:

  • Applicant name: an entity must be registered to do business in Ohio to receive an award. Only the applicant entity’s expenditures are eligible. The applicant will receive the tax credit certificate, when the project is complete.
  • Ohio address and Telephone number for the Ohio production office
  • Contact name and telephone number
  • List of first pre-production date through the last production (or post production) date in Ohio.
  • Total Production budget
    • Total budgeted eligible production expenses
    • Percentage of total production budget that will be eligible Ohio expenses
    • Estimates value of the tax credit based upon total budgeted eligible production expenses
  • Total percentage of the project which is being shot in Ohio
  • Level of employment of cast and crew who reside in Ohio
  • Script synopsis and Shooting script
  • Creative elements list that includes the principal cast and crew, the producer, and director
  • Signed (electronic) application form
  • Documentation of financial ability to undertake and complete the project
  • Trade secret information summary and justification (if applicable)

All applications are received electronically. Applications can be filed under “Incentives” tab, above. Please note: you may work on your application but it is not filed until you have clicked on “Submit”. Once submitted, applications are time stamped and evaluated.

For questions about filing an application, please contact Troy Patton at Troy.Patton@development.ohio.gov

Overview & Eligibility

The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit (OMPTC) was created in 2009 to encourage and develop a film industry in Ohio. The program provides a refundable, transferable tax credit. Eligible productions can receive 30 percent on production cast and crew wages, as well as other eligible in-state spending. The credit may be taken against the tax for financial institutions, personal income or commercial activities.

The credit is based on eligible production expenditures made in Ohio as defined in Ohio Revised Code 122.85 (A)(4). Pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code (ORC), eligible expenditures are expenditures made after June 30, 2009, for goods or services purchased and consumed in Ohio by a motion picture company directly for the production of a tax credit-eligible production.

To be eligible, a production must spend at least $300,000 per project in the state of Ohio, in the production of entertainment content created in whole or in part within this state for distribution or exhibition to the general public. 

Production projects which may be approved for the tax credit include feature-length films, documentaries, long-form specials, miniseries, series and interstitial television programming, interactive web sites, sound recordings, videos, music videos, interactive television commercials, any format of digital media, and any trailer, pilot, video teaser or demo created primarily to stimulate the sale, marketing, promoting or exploitation of future investment in either a product or a motion picture by any means and media in any digital media format, film or videotape.

Productions not eligible include any television program created primarily as news, weather, or financial market reports, a production featuring current events or sporting events, an awards show or other gala event, a production whose sole purpose is fundraising, a long-form production that primarily markets a product or service or in-house corporate advertising or other similar productions, a production for purposes of political advocacy, or any production for which records are required to be maintained under 18 U.S.C. 2257 with respect to sexually explicit content.

From diverse landscapes to a solid crew base and competitive cost of living, Ohio offers a vast range of opportunities for film, television and videogame production.

Application Process for Tax Credit


Eligible Productions

To apply, an applicant must register the production company with the state of Ohio by clicking this link.

Upon approval and certification by the Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) that the project proposed by the applicant is a Tax Credit Eligible Production, the applicant shall receive an invoice for a non-refundable application fee in an amount equal to one percent (1%) of the Estimated Value of the Credit as calculated in Section 5 of the application up to a maximum of $10,000.

The fee shall be due and payable within 45 days of receipt of the invoice and notice of the Director’s certification of the project. The application fee shall be paid by check made out to ”Treasurer, State of Ohio” and sent to the Ohio Development Services Agency, Ohio Film Office, 77 South High Street, 29th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

An applicant may request changes to an application during the review process. Substantive changes may result in reevaluation of an application.

Application Process

All applications will be reviewed for completeness, compliance with the law (Ohio revised code 122.85 and Ohio Admin code 122:21) and these guidelines. The Ohio Film Office may consider the following criteria in its review of applications:

Applications for the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit can be filed at any time at https://development.ohio.gov/filmoffice
Applications are only accepted online.  They are time stamped and held in the order in which they are received.
When tax credits are available, the Ohio Film Office reviews applications to determine eligibility for the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit program based on the application and eligibility for the program as provided in the Ohio Revised Code 122.85 and Ohio Administrative Code 122:21.
Applications are reviewed in the following order:

  1. Partially-funded awards
  2. Television series or miniseries
  3. All others, in the order in which they are received

If there is a minimum of $90,000 in tax credits available, but not enough to fully meet the request of the next applicant in line, a partial award will be offered, for the amount of tax credits available.  If a partial award is accepted, the applicant’s award is considered ‘open’ until the total amount of tax credits is available to meet the original application request or the fiscal year ends, whichever comes first.  While a project award is ‘open’, it remains the priority for tax credit award(s).
The next priority shall be given to tax-credit eligible productions that are television series or miniseries.
A television series is a set of no less than six (6) interrelated scripted episodes of regularly occurring production in Ohio, available for public viewing periodically or all at once without regard to distribution or transmission method.

A miniseries is a set of two (2) or more scripted episodes produced in Ohio based on a single theme or storyline, with a combined running time of no less than 150 program minutes, available for public viewing periodically or all at once and without regard to distribution or transmission method.

Pilot programs produced for the purpose of selling a proposed television series are not eligible for priority review.  Clip-based programming where more than 50% of the content is comprised of licensed footage are not eligible for priority review.
All other applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received.  If the application is approved, the eligible production company (the applicant) will receive a notice of award. The date on the award letter indicates the starting date of eligible expenses. The non-refundable program fee must be received in full within 45 days of the date on the award letter.  See Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 122:21-1-03(A).

The application fee is 1% of the award amount up to $10,000.00.  If the fee is not received in full and on time, it will result in automatic rescission of the project’s tax credit award. OAC 122:21-1-03(B). The tax credits would then become available for another eligible production.

  • The amount of qualifying Ohio production expenses to be incurred;
  • The number of jobs to be created by the project;
  • The number of shooting days in Ohio;
  • Whether the project is or will be fully financed prior to the commencement of principal photography in Ohio;
  • The number of job training opportunities to be generated by the project;
  • Whether post production activity will take place in Ohio;
  • Whether the project will tend to foster a positive image of Ohio; and
  • Such other factors as the Ohio Film Office may deem appropriate.

If an application for a tax credit is approved, the Ohio Film Office will prepare and send (e-mail) an Award Letter to the applicant. The Award Letter will specify the maximum amount of eligible tax credits. In addition, the applicant's obligations will be included, consisting of, but not limited to, the following:

  • Application fee invoice (due within 45 days of the invoice date)
  • 90 day reviewable progress report form (due 90 days after certification)

What is the 90 - day progress report?An applicant is required to provide the Ohio Film Office with a 90-day progress report to maintain eligibility, if the project is not completed within 90 days. The progress report can be filed online at https://development.ohio.gov/filmoffice/default.html

The Film Office may from time to time inquire into the progress of the production during the pendency of the project. If tax credits are not being used, we request they return to the program as timely as possible for use by another project.

Overview of Eligible Production Expenditures

Project expenditures directly related to the production are eligible if they are for goods or services purchased and consumed within the State of Ohio. The most common expenditures include, cast and crew wages, accommodations, costs of set construction and operations, editing and related services, photography, sound synchronization, lighting, wardrobe, makeup and accessories, film processing, transfer, sound mixing, special and visual effects, music, location fees, and the purchase or rental of facilities and equipment.

How are payroll expenses treated?
In general, payroll processing expenses are eligible expenditures if the company performing the services is an Ohio business and completing the work in the state.

How are wages for cast /crew, fringe benefits and per diems treated?
Cast and crew wages means pretax wages paid to individuals employed as cast or crew of the tax credit-eligible production, including the contract amount of loan-out talent and any other employment contracts. Cast and crew also includes “above the line” personnel such as producers, directors, writers, and actors.   Wages also includes the dollar value of employer contributions to Ohio resident pension plans, health and welfare benefits, holiday, and vacation pay to the extent such pay is included in wages.
Generally, per diems are not eligible expenditures because they are typically not taxable.

Does the purchase of production insurance qualify as an eligible expenditure?
The purchase of such insurance will qualify as an eligible expenditure so long as the insurance is purchased from an Ohio based broker/ agent.

Are interest expenses associated with production financing considered eligible expenditures?
Yes, provided that the financing is obtained from a bank or other lender with a brick and mortar storefront and at least one full-time employee and one year of physical presence in Ohio. Additionally, all loan services must be performed in Ohio and at market rate of interest is charged.
Capitalized interest does not qualify.

How is the tax credit certificate transferred?

In order to receive the tax credit, the eligible production must be complete and a report by an independent certified public accountant engaged at the company’s expense must be submitted to the Director. The report must be submitted and certified by the accountant for accuracy.

Upon acceptance of the accountant’s report, the Director will issue a tax credit certificate based on actual eligible expenses up to the amount of the award letter. The tax credit is calculated as 30 (thirty) percent of all EPEs.

Transfer of the Credit

Ownership of all or part of the credit may be transferred to other parties.  The applicant may only transfer once, however, the transfer may be made to multiple third parties as requested. A transfer form must be completed and submitted by the original applicant.  A transfer form can be found in the online portal. The applicant (transferor) must include a copy of the Motion Picture Tax Credit Certificate with the completed form and mail it to the Ohio Film Office.

Acknowledgement in Production Credits

Productions that receive film tax credits are required to acknowledge the state of Ohio. The Ohio Development Services Agency will provide an official logo for placement in the credits. The Agency reserves the right to exclude the state’s name in the credits of any tax credit eligible production.

Public Records Notice

All information submitted in connection with this application is subject to public records information disclosure pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 149.43, unless the information is protected by another statute including commercial or financial information pursuant to 122.36 of the Ohio Revised Code or data which consists of trade secrets, as defined in 1333.61 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Contact

  • The Application and all attachments must be submitted via an on-line portal at: development.ohio.gov/filmoffice
  • Program Fee:
    • The application fee shall be paid by check or money order made payable to: Treasurer, State of Ohio,
    • Ohio Development Services Agency Office of Revenue Management, P.O. Box 16565, Columbus, Ohio 43216-6565. 
  • Transfer Form must be submitted to:
    • Ohio Development Services Agency 
      c/o Ohio Film Office, 29th floor
      77 South High Street
      Columbus, Ohio 43215
  • General Program Questions:

General Questions

Tax credits are designed to replace tax liability. Therefore, to receive a tax credit, the production company must file an Ohio tax return when filming is completed. The allowable credit can be taken against the financial institutions tax, the personal income tax or the commercial activities tax.

The tax credit is available to eligible production companies or entities that are registered to do business in Ohio, producing a tax credit eligible production, with a minimum $300,000 per project spent in Ohio.  An eligible production may be produced by an individual, corporation, partnership, limited liability company, or other form of business association producing an eligible production as defined in ORC 122.85(A)(5).

An eligible production company must meet all requirements provided in the Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code as applicable.

$40 million in Motion Picture Tax Credits is available beginning July first each year. Applications may be submitted at any time. Applications are reviewed when tax credits are available. Tax credits not used in the prior fiscal year will roll over into the following fiscal year. In this way, tax credit availability can happen at any time. .

The entire amount of your spending in Ohio must be at least $300,000 to be eligible for tax credits.

The program provides a refundable, transferable tax credit certificate to be taken against the financial institutions tax, the personal income tax or the commercial activities tax. The credit is based on eligible production expenditures (EPEs) in Ohio (see below).

Upon completion of filming, the production entity must submit documentation of qualifying expenditures and any other documentation required by the Ohio Film Office. Once this process has been completed, the Ohio Film Office will issue an Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit Certificate stating the final amount of tax credit the production is eligible to receive.

The entire project must be completed and ready for distribution. Once the project is completed, the applicant must submit an audit report prepared by an independent certified public accountant (CPA). The CPA must certify that the requirements of the program are met. A form for use by the CPA can be found in the online portal. The Ohio Film Office will review the audit report and issue a Tax Credit Certificate.

Yes, as long as expenditures were made after June 3, 2009.

You can do both, but the original signed copy must be mailed. Some applicants will scan and e-mail to get it in faster.

No award will be made if there is less than $90,000.00 in tax credits available. If there is $90,000.00 or more in tax credits available, a partial award will be offered to the next eligible production in line for review. If a partial award is accepted, the applicant’s award is considered ‘open’ until the total amount of tax credits is available to meet the original application request or the fiscal year ends, whichever comes first.

While a project award is ‘open’, it remains the priority for tax credit award(s).

 

Application Questions

Upon approval and certification by the Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency that the project is a tax credit eligible production, the applicant shall receive an invoice for a non-refundable application fee in an amount equal to one percent (1%) of the estimated value of the tax credit as calculated in Section 5 of the application (up to a maximum of $10,000). The fee shall be due and payable within 45 days of receipt of the invoice and notice of the Director's certification of the project. If the fee is not received in full and on time, it will result in automatic rescission of the project’s tax credit award. OAC 122:21-1-03(B). The tax credits would then become available for another eligible production.

An applicant is required to provide the Ohio Film Office with a 90-day progress report to maintain eligibility, if the project is not completed within 90 days. The progress report can be filed online at https://development.ohio.gov/filmoffice/default.html

The Film Office may from time to time inquire into the progress of the production during the pendency of the project. If tax credits are not being used, we request they return to the program as timely as possible for use by another project.

Prior to receiving an award of eligibility letter, contact the Ohio Film Office to request changes.  Depending on the changes, the office may ‘unlock’ the pending application or ask for an amended application. Only the applicant may make changes to the project information.

When the Ohio Film Office has tax credits available and is ready to review your project to determine eligibility, the applicant will be contacted about any deficiencies in the application to see if they can be cured. 

After eligibility is awarded, the applicant should file a revised application online with a revised budget, revised total, and Ohio expenditures, and identify the new credit they are seeking and contact the Ohio Film Office. Approval of additional credits does not receive priority review and is subject to tax credit availability. If you are approved for an additional credit, you will receive written notification authorizing the additional credits.

Updated contact information should be sent in an email to: AskOhioFilm@development.ohio.gov

A change in applicant name or legal entity is not allowed.

Project substitutions or name changes are not allowed.

 

Expenditure Questions

Yes. Wages paid to above the line personnel such as producers, directors, writers, and actors are "direct production expenditures" eligible for the 30 percent credit amount. Wages paid to below the line personnel such as technical crew members are also qualified.

 

Payroll and Fringe Benefit Questions

No. Only services performed entirely within Ohio qualify for the tax credit.

No. The payroll processing business would qualify only if the payroll services were entirely performed in Ohio.

No. The nature of the transaction remains substantially that of payroll processing because the true employer of the employees whose payroll is being processed is the film production company.

Cast and crew wages means pretax wages paid to the Ohio-resident individuals employed as cast or crew of the tax credit-eligible production, including the contract amount of loan-out talent and any other employment contracts. For purposes of Ohio law, wages also includes the dollar value of employer contributions to Ohio resident pension, health and welfare benefits, holiday, and vacation to the extent included in wages.

 

Production Insurance Questions

Yes. The law specifically provides credit for this type of expense as long as the company is "Ohio- based."

Insurance qualifies if it is associated with one of the eligible production expenditure categories (i.e. insurance on equipment).

Yes, provided that: 1) The financing is obtained from a bank or other lender with a brick and mortar storefront and at least one full-time employee and one year of physical presence in Ohio; 2) All loan services are performed in Ohio; and 3) An appropriate rate of interest is charged to the production company. If so, does capitalized interest qualify? No. Only current expenditures qualify for the tax credit and under capitalized interest payment is deferred to a future date. Does interest that continues to accrue post-Ohio activity qualify? Only interest actually paid prior to the request for certification will qualify.

 

Amendment of Production Company Estimated Expenditures (Budget) Questions

Production companies should send a revised application to the Ohio Film Office with a revised budget, revised total, and Ohio expenditures, and identify the new credit they are seeking. The  application should be signed by an authorized representative.

Approval of additional credits is not automatic and subject to availability. The state will respond with a letter authorizing additional credits if the request is approved.

Expenditures made prior to written approval by the state will not qualify for the tax credit.

 

Per Diems, Living Allowances, and Car and Meal Allowances Questions

No. They are generally not subject to taxation as the law requires.

 

Required Reporting Question

The independent certified public accountant report due to the Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency under division (D) of section 122.85 of the Ohio Revised Code shall certify to the Director that the applicant's reported costs of a tax credit- eligible production are eligible production expenditures as defined in section 122.85 of the Ohio Revised Code. In addition, the independent certified public accountant shall:
(1) Complete the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit CPA Report that was emailed to the production company;
(2) Certify to the Director that the loan-out talent contractors are registered with the Ohio Secretary of State to do business in Ohio;
(3) Review and certify to the Director all contract and expense items greater than or equal to $10,000, and review and certify to the Director no less than 50 percent of the contracts and expense items less than $10,000;
(4) Certify to the Director that all eligible production expenditures for the tax credit eligible production were incurred during the period of July 1, 2009 to the production complete date; and
(5) Certify to the Director that the goods and services claimed as eligible production expenditures were performed or consumed in Ohio:
(A) The costs of the certified public accountant's report shall not qualify as an eligible production expenditure.
(B) Within 60 days of receipt of the independent certified public accountant's report, the Director shall review and provide a written notice to the applicant accepting the report or identifying any deficiencies in the report, and if the report is accepted, identifying any disallowance of expenditures claimed and providing the reason for any disallowance. If the report does not satisfy the reporting requirements, the applicant shall have 30 days after the notice date to cause the independent certified public accountant to remedy the identified deficiencies. Also, within 30 days of receipt of the Director's notice of any disallowed expenditure, the applicant may request reconsideration and provide additional documentation in support of the report. The Director shall consider all relevant information submitted and respond in writing. Upon reconsideration, the Director's determination shall be final.
(C) If the applicant fails to provide a report of an independent certified public accountant within the time allowed by this rule and complying with the requirements, no tax credit certificate will be issued.

 


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