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California's Tax Incentives Lottery System Is Broken

Despite this year's record number of applications, a lot of people are unhappy with the lottery system used for California's Film and TV Tax Credit Program. The current random-drawing method negates merit and is uncertain, explains Deadline's Dominic Patten reports.

ca film commissionWe won’t know for nearly a month who gets a piece of California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program pie this year, but we do know today how many projects were picked via lottery and how many applications were submitted. The California Film Commission says 23 projects have been initially selected and that 497 applications were submitted before Monday’s 3 PM deadline. In terms of the initial projects pulled in the lottery, there’s a slight decrease from last year. In terms of applications, that’s a record for a program where demand always outstrips supply. It’s about 30% more than last year’s record 380, when the likes of Warner Bros’ Entourage movie, the fourth season of MTV’s Teen Wolf and the fifth seasons of FX’s Justified and ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars emerged as winners. Last year saw 29 projects initially successful in the lottery. That went up to 31 projects a day later on June 4, 2013, when a TV series CFC Lottery 2014-1dropped out and freed up funds. With a Deputy Fire Marshal pulling the numbers, the lottery started yesterday afternoon but was suspended around 4:30 PM when the CFC offices were evacuated due to a nearby bomb scare. Picking up where they left off, the commission restarted the lottery at 9 AM today.

Related: DeadlineNow: Don’t Blame Canada, Fix California’s Film & TV Tax Credit (Video)

Now that the initial winners of the credit covering about 20% of production costs also has been determined in a random selection process, the state office plans to take the next few weeks to check the applications thoroughly to make sure they are eligible for the incentive. A list of successful projects will be made available on July 1. In past years, the commission has announced the name and number of projects that scored on the lottery, but this time round it wants to thoroughly check each potential winning application individually to make sure it qualifies. (more…)