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Start Spreading the News…New York State Expands Tax Credit for Musical Productions

New York City has long been recognized as the epicenter for American musical productions, however, legislators recently passed a bill to support the growth of this industry in other parts of New York State as well. Known as the Empire State Music Production Tax Credit, this law  encourages music and theatrical production companies to conduct pre-tour activities and perform shows at locations in Upstate New York, by providing a fully refundable 25 percent for certain production and transportation expenditures directly related to the technical period of a show. (The technical period refers to activities performed by the technical personnel of a qualified touring production prior to a tour, including, but not limited to, those personnel responsible for lighting, sound, wardrobe and props.)

This program is administered by Empire State Development (ESD), New York State’s chief economic development agency. Below is a brief synopsis of this tax credit. More information can be found by reviewing the program regulations:

Eligible expenses for the Empire State Music Production Tax Credit:

    • Pre-tour production costs for design, construction, and operation, including sets, special and visual effects, costumes, wardrobes, makeup, accessories and costs associated with sound, lighting, and staging.


    • All salaries, wages, fees, per-diems and other compensation including related benefits for services performed. Total allowable expenses are not to exceed $200,000 per week.


    • Technical and crew production costs, such as expenditures for qualified production facilities, or any part thereof, props, make-up, wardrobe, costumes, equipment used for special effects, sound recording, set construction and lighting.


    • Expenses associated with performing a show for a paying audience in a qualified production facility are eligible if the show in question has not been previously performed in any facility, other than a qualified production facility, subsequent to the completion of the technical period in a qualified production facility.


Non-eligible expenses for the Empire State Music Production Tax Credit:

  • Advertising, marketing and publicity, compensation for services performed at a location other than a qualified production facility, and any expenditure for the technical period of the musical and theatrical production incurred at a location other than a qualified production facility are not eligible expenditures.

What is considered a qualified production facility?

  • To be considered a qualified production facility, the ESD must receive an application and attestation indicating acknowledgment and compliance with program criteria.

Where are the qualified production facilities in Upstate New York?

This is a current list of facilities that meet the criteria for a qualified production facility in Upstate New York:

  • Auditorium Theatre, Rochester, NY
  • Clemens Center, Elmira, NY
  • Forum Theatre, Binghamton, NY
  • Proctor’s Theatre, Schenectady, NY
  • The Stanley Theatre, Utica, NY
  • The Landmark Theatre, Syracuse, NY
  • Shea’s Performing Arts Center, Buffalo, NY
  • Artpark & Company Inc., Lewiston, NY

There may be additions to this list, so you may wish to check back in the future.

How do you apply for the credit?

To take advantage of the Empire State Music Production Tax Credit you must submit an application prior to the commencement of the technical period of a qualified musical and theatrical production. Application materials can be found on the EDS website.

The expansion of this tax credit is an important step in strengthening and growing New York State’s music and theater industry. If you know a company or individual who may be able to take advantage of it—start spreading the news!

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Jonathan Medows, CPA

Jonathan Medows is a certified public accountant licensed in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He is also a recognized expert in taxation for freelancers and the self-employed—often tapped for his expert knowledge and perspective on self-employment taxation by national and regional publications such as The New York Post, BusinessWeek, Forbes taxation blog, WebCPA, CPA Practice Advisor, and others. You can read some of Jonathan’s press coverage here.

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