A Television Diversity Tax Credit Bill championed by the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and the Directors Guild of America has been signed into law by the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.
The landmark bill, which was passed with bipartisan support in the State Senate and Assembly, will support a study of the disparity between the availability of women and people of color to write and direct TV in New York and the actual hiring rates.
Once the study is completed, the State of New York will allocate $5 million from the Empire State Film Production Tax Credit to incentivize the hiring of women and people of color to write and direct television in the state.
Qualifying projects would be eligible for up to 30% of the qualifying salaries and fees paid for hiring a minority or woman television writer or director who works or resides in New York. The credit is capped at $150,000 in salaries or fees per person, and $50,000 for such fees or salaries for work done for a single episode of television.
“The bill would create a tax credit for qualified production companies that employee women and minority writers and directors who work on television programs by a allowing a new refundable tax credit for television writers’ and directors’ fees and salary costs,” Cuomo said.
Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, thanked the legislation’s lead sponsors and Gov. Cuomo for their efforts.
“Television starts with storytelling, and our members made clear that this legislation was necessary to make television more inclusive and more reflective of the lives of the people who live here and who comprise the audience for the shows that are made here,” Peterson said. “This bill will strengthen the entertainment industry in New York and, most importantly, build a critical mass of diverse talent that ensures our industry continues to be an engine of growth and employment for years to come.”
In his approval memorandum, Gov. Cuomo wrote, “The bill advances a laudable goal and builds on the success of New York’s Film Tax Credit.”
In order to comply with constitutional mandates related to a set aside such as this, Cuomo secured an agreement with the state legislature to conduct the study that will first demonstrate the “underutilization” of minority and women directors and screenwriters who will benefit from the bill.
The legislature also agreed to require a minimum number of days of work be undertaken in New York, and restrictions on the amount of compensation eligible for the credit, as the legislation allows “above the line” costs to be included for this credit.