Producers of the hit Netflix political series, House of Cards, are demanding increased tax breaks from lawmakers in the state of Maryland, where the show is currently filmed. They claim to have other locations available for next season’s shooting if local government refuses to provide more tax credits to the Emmy nominated show.
The Washington Post reported early today that the California production company, Media Rights Capital, said in letters to Maryland officials that it would cease planning of further production in Maryland until “sufficient incentives” become available. Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, confirmed Friday the contents of the letters received by his office in late January. He, and other lawmakers, are encouraged in the letters to pass legislation increasing the tax credits flagged for television and film production in the state.
Maryland has spent over $40 million in recent years to entice television and film productions to set up shop in the state, and the lion’s share of that amount has gone to House of Cards.
For season one, the production company received over $11 million in tax credits. For the second season it is projected that number will be in the neighborhood of $15 million. These tax breaks are funded across multiple fiscal years. The credits distributed for the first season’s production come from the state’s 2012, 2013, and 2014 budgets. The communications to lawmakers about the level of tax credits which would satisfy the show producers for the upcoming third season did not contain any specific information about dollar amounts.
The first two seasons of House of Cards were filmed mostly in Baltimore and in Harford County. The House chamber in Annapolis was also used for some scenes.
Development officials in the state have reported that the show created about 6,000 jobs and put over $250 million into the economy of the state. This, on top of the glamour and excitement that Hollywood stars attract during a production, is very good for the state’s economic development – but Maryland lawmakers are debating whether it is enough to satisfy the demands for more tax breaks from the House of Cards production company.
Delegate Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery), a supporter of production tax credits in the past, intoned at a hearing on the issue last week that the demands keep getting bigger and bigger. “My question is,” he continued, “When does it stop?”
Another delegate from Montgomery County, Del. C. William Frick, seemed incredulous, asking if it was even possible that they (the production company) would leave after having received millions (of dollars).
Del. Mark N. Fisher (R-Calvert) said it was as if lawmakers were, “being held for ransom.”
The District of Columbia does not offer tax breaks to entertainment production companies, one of the main reasons that Washington DC, the location of the fictional drama about a ruthless US government official, is not the actual filming location. Many states, Virginia included, are looking at providing tax incentives to Hollywood producers to bring production teams to their states, and with them, the promise of show business excitement and jobs.
Maryland receives a closing credit at the end of each episode: “Maryland Film Office, Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development.” The next weeks should reveal whether Maryland lawmakers can be convinced they should provide the increased tax credits which House of Cards demands without getting something more in return – perhaps an executive producer credit?
By Brian Ryer