Simple tax program a different incentive

The scoop: While Hong Kong doesn’t offer a rebate program or favorable exchange rates for international film crews, it does have a simple tax regime — 17.5% for corporations and 16% for unincorporated businesses. Only those profits and income made in Hong Kong are subject to the tax; and if you’re working in Hong Kong from overseas for not more than 60 days in a tax year, then there’s no need to pay a salary tax. If you’re an overseas crew member, you might not even need an entry visa or permit while working in Hong Kong, but it’s best to check with immigration.

There’s also the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), which allows filmmakers to distribute films in China on a quota-free basis as opposed to falling under the foreign-film category. However, it only applies to Hong Kong filmmakers, and films must have a strong Hong Kong element.

Bonus: If you need a local crew, those in Hong Kong are “famous for their professionalism, and they work within your budget,” says a representative from Hong Kong’s Film Services Office (FSO). For filming in public places within the city, a general-purpose filming permit isn’t required, but an OK is needed for filming on government land or on Hong Kong waters.

It’s always a good idea to give the TV and Films Liaison Section of the Hong Kong Police a heads-up. The FSO has all the contact information you’ll need and can answer other film-related questions.

Shot there: “Irreversi,” helmed by Michael Gleissner; Olivier Assayas’ “Boarding Gate”; “My Wife Is a Gangster 3,” helmed by Jo Jin-gyu

Hot spot: The Shaw Group’s Shaw Studios has been slow to open its doors — the $180 million film production and digital post-production facility was originally slated for a summer 2006 launch — but its five soundstages have been completed and are mostly booked through the year. Ang Lee did a few weeks of interim work on “Lust, Caution” there last October. Post-production studios won’t be ready until the end of this year, and the new lab will open before Chinese New Year, which is in the first quarter of 2008.

Link: Hong Kong Film Services Office: fso-tela.gov.hk

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