Hollywood studios and unions have asked Congress to revive the battered entertainment industry with a legislative package including hiring incentives, federal insurance and enhanced expensing of production costs.
“These policies would help jumpstart domestic film and television production, encourage hiring and ameliorate the higher costs that must be undertaken to protect our industry’s workforce,” the letter said.
The document, sent Monday to Congressional leaders, was signed by leaders of the Motion Picture Association, the Directors Guild of America, the Independent Film & Television Alliance, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and SAG-AFTRA.
“We believe a hiring incentive modeled on the employee retention credit or the work opportunity tax credit (WOTC) will help move workers off of unemployment and bring them back into the workforce,” the letter said. “The employee retention credit enacted as part of the CARES Act and the longstanding WOTC provide models that can be revised to accomplish this goal. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, Congress temporarily expanded WOTC eligible groups to include a ‘Hurricane Katrina employee.'”
The missive noted that there’s only a minimal amount of production underway due to the COVID-19 pandemic — partly due to the lack of available insurance.
“The ability of our industry to return to active production, whether on set or on location, is severely compromised by the inability to purchase insurance to cover losses stemming from communicable diseases amongst cast, crew and others involved in the production,” the letter said.
“This insurance has been available in the past and is essential to the decisions by banks and others to risk investment in a film or program that may be shut down while a single member of the cast recovers from illness or as a result of civil authority order, unrelated to the specific production. Without it, production — especially independent production — cannot resume on a significant level. We urge Congress to develop a program of federal insurance (or guarantee to fill this gap) to cover pandemic-related business losses in the future.”
The letter also asked for a revamp of the tax code to allow performing artists to deduct unreimbursed employee, which is currently applicable only if they make $16,000 or less a year in income. “We ask Congress to pass the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act (HR 3121), which will raise the maximum income cap to $100,000 for individual filers and $200,000 for joint filers.”