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Hollywood Hits the Jackpot in Nevada

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Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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Las Vegas CBS KXNT- Producers whose film projects meet a long list of requirements will be able to apply for transferable tax credits through the Nevada governor’s office beginning next year, under a new law signed this week by Governor Brian Sandoval.

Companies that get the credits can sell them on an incentives exchange to other producers, or to other industries. The Nevada law specifically identifies gaming.  Buyers would bid on the credits at auction for less than face value, and use them to pay Nevada taxes.

The incentive is a four-year pilot program starting  on January 1, 2014. It will be will be carefully watched by state tax officials to evaluate whether the economic activity it generates offsets the diversion of tax revenue, Mayor Carolyn Goodman said on Wednesday at a press briefing where she announced the program.

Film industry tax credit proposals have come up in Carson City every legislative session since the Guinn Administration, without success. Until Goodman showed up this spring with Nicolas Cage in tow.

Goodman was brimming over on Wednesday when she told the story.  She gives a large measure of credit to film star and Las Vegas resident Cage for moving Senate Bill 165 across the finish line this session, and says she persuaded him to make the lobbying trip.

Cage had paid a visit to the mayor’s office to ask the same question Goodman says she gets regularly from film industry figures — “why doesn’t Nevada offer us tax incentives?”

Cage told Goodman the industry loves Las Vegas, but has been replicating it in other states where tax incentives are offered.

Goodman’s husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, and others including former Lt. Governor Lorraine Hunt have promoted  film tax credit proposals with the aim of making Las Vegas a hub for the industry since shortly after Casino was shot here. The  film’s 1995 release created a Las Vegas buzz that drove tourism, Mrs. Goodman said.

Mrs. Goodman decided while cage was in her office to seize the moment.  She  took him to the legislature, where his star power generated considerable excitement,  but he also brought credibility to the discussion, the mayor said.  Lawmakers were reassured by his presence that the industry would be receptive to the program, which offers up to $20 million in transferable tax credit to qualifying production companies in any single year, with a maximum of $6 million per project.

The industry will require more than the money. It will need shooting and production facilities. As a start, Goodman suggests themed downtown streets, each one built to look like a different city.

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