The alphabet soup of pandemic-related financial-aid acts rocketing around Capitol Hill can be hard to follow, but an important one was introduced into the Senate by Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Marsha Blackburn (R–Tenn.) on Thursday morning.
With many of the CARES Act provisions expiring, the Help Independent Tracks Succeed (HITS) Act, a bipartisan solution that would allow musicians, technicians and producers to deduct 100 percent of recording production expenses in the year they are incurred, rather than in later years — i.e. an individual could fully expense the cost of new studio recordings on their taxes, up to $150,000. This small tax incentive would alter the current tax policy that requires individual recording artists and record producers to amortize production expenses for tax purposes over the economic life of a sound recording.
The federal tax code already allows film, television and theater productions to fully deduct production expenses in the year they are incurred, but not music production expenses.
Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Ron Estes (R-Kan.).
“Because most large, public gatherings have been prohibited since the pandemic began, musicians and music producers have been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus,” said Senator Feinstein. “Our bill would provide relief by allowing independent musicians, technicians and producers to deduct their production expenses in the same year they occur, rather than forcing them to spread those deductions out over several years. This is in line with how expenses are treated for film, television and theater productions, and it makes sense to create parity for music productions.”
“Singers and songwriters lift our spirits and now need our help to get past the pandemic,” said Senator Blackburn. “These artists are the lifeblood of Nashville’s creative community. This bipartisan legislation will provide additional tax deductions to ease the burden facing our creative community by allowing our independent artists to fully deduct the cost of producing their music.”
The move met with immediate support from the Recording Academy and the American Association of Independent Music.
“Today’s introduction of the HITS Act in the Senate lays the groundwork for creators to produce new music and create jobs amidst a year filled with economic uncertainty,” said Harvey Mason jr., chair and interim president/CEO of the Recording Academy. “This change in the tax code – similar to the tax treatment of other creative industries – will incentivize more music production. The Recording Academy thanks Senators Feinstein and Blackburn for their leadership on this issue and for introducing the Senate companion to the House bill, which already enjoys broad, bipartisan support.”
“The American Association of Independent Music and its more than 700 record label members across the country are grateful for the support of Senators Feinstein and Blackburn in introducing the HITS Act,” added Richard James Burgess, president and CEO of A2IM. “In the face of the pandemic, musicians across the country are struggling to make a living and support their families, in part because they can’t tour or play live shows. The tax incentives contained in the HITS Act are designed to get musicians back into the recording studio by treating the costs of making a sound recording the same as production costs for other creative content. This is a common-sense, bipartisan, fiscally responsible measure that would be a great step forward for indie music, and thousands of artists in California, Tennessee and across the nation.”