The Louisiana Senate on Thursday endorsed a series of bills revamping the state’s tax credit program.

“All of these bills are an effort to clean-up the credits program, not expand it, and weed out fraud,” said Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans.

The Senate, without a “no” vote being cast, quickly advanced to the House five bills out of an 11-bill packaged sponsored by Morrell. The bills now move to the House for debate.

The bills, among other things, modify the cost of the credits, focus the credits to benefit Louisiana and require better regulation and administration of the program.

The film tax credit program has made Louisiana attractive to the motion picture industry bringing a string of productions to the state since the program began in 2002.

But the program has proved costly and been tainted with fraud.

According to the state Department of Economic Development, the program costs $4.48 for every $1 of state revenue it creates.

The Senate approved:

  • Senate Bill 98 would require sellers of tax credits to qualify for and be included in a Public Registry of Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit Brokers, which includes a criminal history background check. Those who don’t register would be subject to a fine of up to $10,000 or prison up to five years, or both.
  • Senate Bill 100 would require sworn affidavits of those submitting information for the creation of production audit reports for tax credits.
  • Senate Bill 101 would require the Louisiana Workforce Commission to provide information to the Department of Economic Development and the state Revenue Department to verify payroll and employment of Louisiana residents for purpose of the tax credit.
  • Senate Bill 103 would exclude certain expenditures as eligible for the tax credit. Included in the list is airfare, bond fees, finance fees, loan interest fees, insurance premiums and the like paid to investors in the production.
  • Senate Bill 105 would authorize the recapture of disallowed tax credits personally from owners of entities created or organized for the primary purpose of receiving and-or selling tax credits. Morrell said the change would “expedite the ability to retrieve tax credits if they are found to be disallowed.”

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