Production Incentives

Since 2000, the DGA has played a leading role in securing legislation at the federal, state, and local level to help keep film and television production in the United States. More information on the Guild’s support of state efforts can be found below.

In 2004, at the federal level, the DGA achieved a big victory with the enactment of Section 181 of the Internal Revenue Code which provides an incentive for domestic film and television productions. In 2008, this provision was significantly modified to cover a wider range of domestic productions.

The revised legislation expanded the program by applying the tax incentive to the first $15 million of all films and television productions in the United States, not just productions whose total costs do not exceed a $15 million cap, as in the original legislation. (If the costs are incurred in economically depressed areas in the United States, the incentive can be applied to the first $20 million.)

In December 2015, the reinstatement of Section 181 was included in the Omnibus spending bill, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act. Section 181 can now be applied retroactively to production costs in 2015 – and will expire December 31, 2016. (For more information, click on Section 181 on the right side of this webpage for a brochure with additional details and FAQs.)

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The DGA actively worked in many of the states where production incentives now exist, and continues to work in coalitions and with other partners to promote the benefits of film and television production. 

In California, the Guild co-chairs the statewide California Film & Television Production Alliance that successfully pushed for passage of The California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act (AB 1839), signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown in September 2014.  This legislation created a five-year, $330 million per year program that significantly extended and enhanced the previous California incentive. 

The new program, commonly referred to as The California Film & Television Tax Credit Program 3.0, is applied based on a project’s jobs ratio ranking. Since the program's inception, it has approved 604 projects, allocating $2.5 billion in tax credits and resulting in $19.8 billion in California expenditures. The program has resulted in 164,000 jobs. 29 TV shows relocated from other states to California.

The Guild, together with its partners in the California Film & Television Production Alliance, continues to inform California legislators about the significant impact the program has already had and the importance of keeping California competitive.

Additional information on The California Film & Television Tax Credit Program 3.0 can be found on the California Film Commission’s website:

In New York, the DGA worked closely with its partners to initially secure the passage of the Empire State Film Production Tax Credit – and then to ensure its renewal.  In April 2013, legislation was enhanced and extended for the state incentive program, allocating $420 million per year through 2019. This hugely successful incentive will be up for renewal in 2019 and the Guild is already fully engaged in accomplishing that goal. (Additional information can be found on the New York State Governor's Office for Motion Picture and Television Development website:

Since 2014, as part of the Guild’s overall diversity initiatives, the DGA has worked closely with the Writers Guild of America East to introduce and support a first-of-its-kind bill in New York which encourages the hiring of women and minority directors in episodic television. To achieve this, the legislation would set aside $5 million from the current $420 million per year allocated to the New York film and television production incentive.  The legislation passed the New York Assembly and moved close, but did not get, to a Senate floor vote in June 2016. The Guild will continue to pursue this effort.   

The Guild wants its members to be able to choose where they work and has pursued productions incentives to give filmmakers greater options to keep television and film productions in the United States.

(Further Information on individual state incentives can be found at the Association of Film Commissioners International site at this link:

Sarah Howes
Director of Government Affairs
(310) 289-5358
Film & TV Production in California

Why a strong production incentive matters.

Section 181

Information and FAQs on using this federal film and television production tax incentive.

Film Commissions

A resource list with website links to film commission information across the map.

An Economic Report on the California Film and TV Tax Credit Program