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The Jersey Shore Film and Television Tax Credit

This article was written by in Taxes. 14 comments.

New Jersey has been gaining a worldwide reputation thanks to the plethora of newer television programs featuring the state. It may have started with The Sopranos, but Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and Jersey Couture have continued. The state government has been providing a tax credit encouraging filmmakers to bring their production to the Garden State. The incentive hasn’t resulted in New Jersey becoming “Hollywood East” as was either hoped or feared, depending on your point of view, when the state created the tax credit.

New Jersey is not alone in this approach. New York City has offered a similar tax credit to bring film production to the east, benefiting many films and television series, and along with film production comes many jobs.

Jersey ShoreThe tax credit in this state doesn’t just apply to entertainment about New Jersey. Parts of the film Transformers 2 was filmed here, as well. I haven’t seen the movie, but as far as I know about the film, there’s nothing included that could tarnish the reputation of the state’s citizens, unlike some of the other projects filmed here. Most notably, Governor Chris Christie singled out Jersey Shore. In his role as governor, Christie has revoked the $420,000 tax credit for production of the series filmed for MTV. As a New Jersey resident, I’m acutely aware that the personalities of the characters on Jersey Shore don’t reflect the reality of the greater community within the state.

I don’t necessarily think the tax credit should be repealed based on a show’s content, however. The goal of the tax credit is not to encourage marketing in favor of the state’s reputation (propaganda) or tourism, but to bring an industry and that industry’s jobs to the state, many of which might not have been here otherwise.

It’s valid to argue that the tax credit shouldn’t exist in the first place. Producers would naturally gravitate towards locations where it is more economical to produce. A tax credit gets in the way of market forces. I’m fine with tax credits for certain industries if it benefits the state economically, and it’s easy to see that the tax credit program for filmmakers does that. As a New Jersey citizen, I’d prefer hat the tax credit be used to produce quality entertainment, but that’s a judgment call. It’s an opinion, and one that the government shouldn’t be using for policy decisions.

The governor most likely wants to kill the tax credit altogether, and is just using Jersey Shore as an example of entertainment that “uses” the credit to enhance the negative reputation of its citizens. He understands that appealing to the state’s reputation could be an easier fight than killing a job-producing tax credit on its merits as government intrusion on a free market. I’m no fan of Jersey Shore, but either kill the tax credit entirely or don’t arbitrarily decide who should receive the benefit. Move the funds to the marketing and tourism budget if the government decides funds should be dedicated only to entertainment that sheds a positive light on the state.

Photo: wfyurasko
Yahoo News, New Jersey Motion Picture & Television Commission

Updated October 1, 2011 and originally published September 29, 2011.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

Good to know why Jersey related shows have become so prevalent as of late! Also, I do agree that if a tax credit is offered to one, it should be offered to all. Selective tax breaks seems unlawful.

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avatar 2 Ceecee

This is just common sense and fairness. Everyone gets the same deal. When a movie was filmed here at the shore one Fall a few years ago, it brought lots of people. I worked in a small shop at the time and it did help business at what was usually a really slow time.

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avatar 3 shellye

I, too, was wondering why all of a sudden a plethora of Jersey-based shows were popping up on TV. I am not sure why Gov. Christie revoked Jersey Shore’s tax credit. Maybe there’s some loophole in the state tax laws, who knows.

I am a fan of both the show and Gov. Christie, though!

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avatar 4 Anonymous

The Montreal Gazette says he did it just to get Snooki to leave….. just saying!

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avatar 5 wylerassociate

I’m curious does the 420k tax credit that jersey shore gets the same as the tax credit that movies & scripted tv shows get?

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avatar 6 Luke Landes

It’s the same credit, and it’s for 20% of qualified production expenses when at least 60% of the expenses for the film/show is incurred in New Jersey.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

My understanding was that the tax credit, in its entirety, was repealed going forward. This particular repeal was retroactive for the season that they already filmed. That’s my biggest problem with the repeal of the credit. It’s very bad for business. The entire point of the credit was to attract producers to do business in this state. Now, not only are we not offering them an incentive, we’re also telling them that any deal we make with them may be subject to change-after-the-fact. That’s a really bad way to do business.

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avatar 8 Anonymous

I was going to float the theory that the Jersey Shore show might be hurting tourism trade in New Jersey. Tourism is a $35B industry in NJ. If the show makes people avoid NJ cause of the image that it portrays then its not worth damaging a $35B industry to lure a few TV jobs. However, I found an article that actually said that the show as increased tourism to the Jersey shore area in question so go figure.

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avatar 9 lynn

I would think if any show would have hurt tourism it would have been the Sopranos???

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avatar 10 lynn

It would be very nice for NY state to offer this credit. There is some beautiful country here that would make great back drops for movies.

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avatar 11 Anonymous

Wouldn’t that be “Hollywood East”? Regular Hollywood is already in the west :)

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avatar 12 Luke Landes

You’re absolutely right.

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avatar 13 lynn

Flexo, I think you should donate your points to charity this year. Maybe a food bank.

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avatar 14 qixx

If the removal of the credit gets rid of some of the NJ based shows I am all for it.

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