The Georgia state legislature has enacted tax code changes allowing digital entertainment producers, including video game companies based outside of the state, to gain new savings on products developed there.
The incentive takes the form of a credit on Georgia income taxes. Both Georgia-based and non-Georgia-based companies with limited tax liability can transfer them to a Georgia company, as long as the transferor recoups at least $.60 on the dollar. Unlike some tax incentives that only affect the publisher and final consumer product, Georgia's tax code qualifies even expenditures on editing, animation, coding, special effects, sound and other costs generated while creating an entertainment product distributed commercially outside of Georgia.
Qualifying companies earn a state tax credit for nine percent of the base investment for production in the state. Eligibility is determined on a "per project" basis, and each project counts toward the $500,000 minimum investment per filing year. If the project employs Georgia residents, the company can get an additional credit for three percent of the aggregate payroll of all Georgia residents employed on the project.
Contract labor is eligible for only the nine percent based investment credit. In addition, companies who make the investment in designated Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties (like Atlanta's Fulton County) are eligible for another three percent.
The Georgia General Assembly first revealed plans for the new tax incentives
in November last year, following the success of a similar scheme in Louisiana. According to Greg Torre, director of the Georgia Department of Economic Development's (GDEcD) Film, Video & Music Office, "We see interactive entertainment as a vital element in the entertainment industry as a whole. Since Georgia has colleges and universities dedicated to cutting-edge technology sitting alongside mainstays in the broadcast industry, this tax incentive seems an ideal way to highlight the fact that Georgia can be an incubator for new and exciting entertainment technology. All the resources are here. Now, we help publishers afford it."
Georgia is already home to mobile phone developer Blue Heat, streaming technology company GameTap, 3D game engine builder Kaneva, machinima production company RoosterTeeth Productions and online developer Studiocom.