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Ohio Film Office  |  Tax Credit Overview and Frequently Asked Questions

Program Update: 

The application deadline for the July 2020 round of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit Program is Monday, June 1, 2020.

All applications and supplemental materials must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, June 1, 2020. The award notifications will be emailed on or before July 31, 2020.


Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit – Offering a 30 percent refundable 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, 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:

  • Broadway Theatrical Production
  • 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 with the Ohio Secretary of State. 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 or qualified production facility
  • Contact name and telephone number
  • List of first pre-production date through the last production date in Ohio
  • List of first post-production date through the last post-production date in Ohio.
  • List of first performance date through the last performance date
  • Total Production budget
    • Total budgeted eligible production expenses
    • Percentage of total production budget that will be eligible Ohio expenses
    • Estimated value of the tax credit based upon total budgeted eligible production expenses
  • In the case of a motion picture, the total percentage of the project which is being shot in Ohio
  • Level of employment of cast and crew who reside in Ohio
  • Script synopsis
  • In the case of a motion picture, the 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
  • Estimated amount of state and local taxes to be generated in this state from the production
  • Estimated economic impact of the production in this state
  • 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.

For questions about filing an application, please contact us at askohiofilm@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. As of 2019, Broadway theatrical productions are also eligible for the credit. The program provides a refundable 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 production company directly for the production of a tax credit-eligible production or for post-production activities or for advertising and promotion of the production.

To be eligible, a motion picture 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.

A Broadway theatrical production must spend at least $300,000 per production in the state of Ohio, in a pre-Broadway production, long run production, or tour launch that is directed, managed, and performed by a professional cast and crew and that is directly associated with New York city's Broadway theater district.

Productions which may be approved for the tax credit include feature-length films, documentaries, long-form specials, miniseries, series and interstitial television programming, pre-Broadway productions, long-run productions, tour launches, 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.

Motion Picture productions that are 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, theatre, and videogame production.

Application Process for Tax Credit

All applications will be reviewed for completeness, compliance with the law (Ohio Revised Code 122.85 and Ohio Administrative 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, under the Incentive tab (this page).

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. Television series or miniseries
  2. All others, in the order in which they are received

No award will be made if there is less than twice the estimated tax credit request. This accounts for eligible production contractors which may receive tax credits. Priority shall be given to tax-credit eligible productions that are television series or miniseries, in accordance with the ORC 122.85.

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

Effective July 1, 2020

Applications will be reviewed and awarded in two rounds annually. The first to be completed by July 31st of each year and the second to be completed by January 31st of each year. Each round will award $20 Million of the annual $40 Million allocation plus any rollover amounts from the preceding period.


Notification of Award E-Mail

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:

  1. Application fee invoice (due within 45 days of the invoice date)
    • Payable to “Treasurer, State of Ohio” and sent to:
      Ohio Development Services Agency, Ohio Film Office,
      77 South High Street, 28th Floor,
      Columbus, Ohio 43215
    • Failure to timely pay the non-refundable fee results in automatic rescission of the award
  2. Reviewable progress report form (due 90 days after certification)
  3. CPA Report
  4. Ohio Film Office Logo

Production Commencement Requirement

Productions must show proof of the commencement of production within 90 days of certification of eligibility for tax credit (the date on an award letter) or tax credit eligibility must be rescinded unless the applicant demonstrates good cause for the delay of production.

A tax credit- eligible production will be considered to have started production if, for motion pictures, the production company has incurred eligible expenditures directly attributable to the commencement of principal photography. Eligible expenditures directly attributable to the commencement of principal photography include purchase or lease of a production office, purchase or rental of personal property and services for use in production, hiring of a unit production manager or line producer, hiring of crew members, a committed shooting schedule with confirmed dates and locations, and set construction activities.

For Broadway theatrical productions, the production company has incurred eligible expenditures directly attributable to the commencement of paid performances. Eligible expenditures directly attributable to the commencement of paid performances include hiring of cast and crew members, rehearsal dates in a qualified production facility confirmed and scheduled, confirmed scheduled performance dates in a qualified production facility, and the commencement of load-in.

For other types of eligible productions, the production company provides sufficient evidence of the incurring of eligible expenditures necessary for the commencement of the main phase of producing a final product, as determined by the Director of Development.

If a tax-credit eligible production fails to document commencement of production within 90 days of the award or the other applicable production deadline, Development shall rescind the certification. However, if production has been delayed due to (1) unforeseeable circumstances beyond the production company's control or (2) action or inaction by a government agency, Development may grant the tax-credit eligible production an additional 60 days to commence production before the certification is rescinded.

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.


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 an 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ohio film incentive?

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

Who qualifies for the Ohio Motion Picture tax credit?

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 spend in Ohio. A tax credit 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)-(9).

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

How much money is available through the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit?

$40 million in Motion Picture Tax Credits is available beginning July first each year. Applications may be submitted at any time. Applications are reviewed and approved in two rounds each fiscal year. . The first round of credits shall be awarded not later than the last day of July of the fiscal year, and the second round of credits shall be awarded not later than the last day of the ensuing January. The amount of credits awarded in the first round of applications each fiscal year shall not exceed twenty million dollars plus any credit allotment that was not awarded in the preceding fiscal year and carried over.

How big does my production have to be to be eligible for the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit?

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

How does the tax credit work?

The program provides a refundable 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).

What's an Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit Certificate?

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.

When can an applicant receive the Tax Credit Certificate?

The entire project must be completed and ready for distribution. Once the project is completed, the applicant may apply to the director of development services for a refundable credit. The applicant must submit an audit report prepared by an independent certified public accountant (CPA) along with the name and address of each production contractor with which the production company contracted for services and the amount of eligible expenditures paid or incurred under the contract with respect to the production. The CPA must certify that the requirements of the program are met. A form for use by the CPA is provided at the time the project is certified as a tax credit eligible production. The Ohio Film Office will review the reports and issue a Tax Credit Certificate if funds are available.

I just found out about the incentive program and I've nearly completed filming. Can I still apply?

Yes, as long as expenditures were made after June 3, 2009. Expenditures made prior to the project receiving certification as a tax credit eligible production will not qualify as eligible expenditures.

What if there are tax credits available but not enough to fund a full project request?

No award will be made if there is less than twice the estimated tax credit request. This accounts for eligible production contractors which may receive tax credits.

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.

Is above the line talent covered as well as below the line?

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.

Is there a fee?

Upon approval and certification by the Director of Development 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).

What is the 90 Day 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. If the production of a motion picture or Broadway theatrical production does not begin within ninety days after the date it is certified as a tax credit eligible production, the director shall rescind the certification unless the director finds that the production company shows good cause for the delay, meaning that the production was delayed due to unforeseeable circumstances beyond the production company's control or due to action or inaction by a government agency. Upon rescission, the director shall notify the applicant that the certification has been rescinded.

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.

What if I need to amend the application?

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.

Can I change information on my application after I have received my eligibility letter?

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.

Who receives the tax credit certificate?

The tax credit certificate is issued to the applicant production company after the entire project is completed or the end of the run for a Broadway theatrical production.

When is the tax credit issued?

After completion of the tax credit eligible production. A tax credit eligible production is not considered complete until the submission of a completed certified public accountant’s report, evidence of project completion, and verification of Ohio Film logo in credits or on playbill. Upon acceptance of the accountant's report as provided in rule 122:21-1-04 of the Administrative Code, the director will issue a credit certificate in an amount equal to thirty percent of the lesser of the budgeted eligible production expenditures stated in the application and the director's certification of the tax credit-eligible production or the actual eligible production expenditures incurred and certified by the independent certified public accountant.

The director shall issue a tax credit certificate to each of the company's production contractors identified in the certified public accountant’s report. The certificate shall state the amount of the eligible expenditures on which the credit is based and the amount of the credit.

Is the tax credit certificate transferable?

Transfers of the tax credit are no longer allowed under the program on or after October 17, 2019.

Can I obtain a tax credit for payroll processing services performed outside of Ohio?

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

Would it qualify if the payroll processing company had an employee in Ohio to handle the data transfer?

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

Does the answer change if the payroll processing business is the "employer of record" for the employees whose payroll is being processed?

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.

Where do I indicate "payroll taxes" and "union pension health and welfare" on the application? Do I include it as part of wages or indicate the amounts under "other"?

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 include the dollar value of employer contributions to Ohio resident pension, health and welfare benefits, holiday, and vacation to the extent included in wages.

Does production insurance purchased from an out-of-state insurance company through an Ohio- based broker/agent qualify as a "direct production expenditure"?

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

If we bind insurance through a local broker, does that qualify?

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

Is a production company's interest expense associated with production financing eligible for an Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit?

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.

What process and procedures should be followed when a production company underestimates its budget and seeks an increase to a previously approved tax credit?

Production companies should submit a supplemental application with a revised budget, revised total, and Ohio expenditures, and identify the new credit they are seeking. The application should be clearly designated as a “Supplemental Application”.

How will additional tax credits be granted?

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.

Will expenditures made before the state authorized the additional tax credit amount qualify for credit?

Yes, so long as the expenditures are made after the project was certified as a tax credit eligible production. If additional credits are approved, the project retains its initial date of certification as a tax credit eligible production.

Are per diem expenses, living allowances, and car and meal allowances eligible for film production credits?

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

How do I report my eligible expenditures to the state and request my tax credit certificate?

The independent certified public accountant report due to the Director of Development 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. (1) Complete the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit CPA Report that was emailed to the production company;
  2. (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. (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. (4) Certify to the Director that all eligible production expenditures for the tax credit eligible production were incurred after the production was certified as a tax credit eligible production to the production complete date; and
  5. (5) Certify to the Director that the goods and services claimed as eligible production expenditures were performed and consumed in Ohio:

The costs of the certified public accountant's report shall not qualify as an eligible production expenditure.

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.

 


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