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N.J. Could Whack Tax Credits for TV Production

June 10, 2010

Movie and television companies are worried about New Jersey eliminating tax breaks that have helped defray the cost of filming shows like “The Sopranos” in the Garden State.

Like most states nowadays, Jersey is facing a severe budget crunch, but it’s the only one so far that has proposed axing the production tax credit program to help fill the state’s $10.7 billion budget gap. Governor Chris Christie has called for eliminating the 20 percent tax credit from the state’s budget, which needs to be passed by July 1.

At a hearing Wednesday, a series of producers, actors and directors lamented the end of the tax credit, according to the Associated Press. Several TV shows, including “Mercy” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” are filmed in Jersey. Academy Award-winning movies like “The Wrestler” and “Julie & Julia” have also been shot in the state.

Proponents of the tax credit argue that it helps promote spending and hiring in New Jersey, but critics say it’s just a giveaway to Hollywood. Still, the tax breaks helps keep shows on the air. While “Mercy” isn’t being renewed by NBC, the TV series might have been picked up by a cable channel, until word got around about the tax credit being dropped.

If Tony Soprano were still around (apart from reruns), he’d probably want to have a little talk with Governor Christie and not so gently suggest an attitude adjustment.

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