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  • Writer's pictureJonny O'Brien

Choosing a Video Production Company: Arizona vs. California and Their Tax Implications

In the video production industry, location matters – and not just for the beautiful shots you can capture. The state in which your production company operates can significantly impact your budget, resources, and the overall production process. This article will delve into the differences between hiring video production companies in Arizona and California, focusing on the varying tax codes of these two states.

The Sunny State: California

California, especially Los Angeles, is known as the epicenter of the film and video production industry. With an abundance of talent, world-class facilities, and stunning locations, it's a natural choice for many productions. However, California is also known for its high cost of living and business operations, largely influenced by its tax structure.

California Tax Implications

California imposes a sales and use tax on tangible personal property, which includes film and video equipment. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the statewide base sales tax rate is 7.25%, but depending on the city or county, the total tax rate can be higher.

However, California offers a Film & Television Tax Credit Program, aimed at retaining and attracting production activity. Qualified productions can receive tax credits, which may offset some of the production costs.

Despite the potential for tax credits, navigating the application process can be complex, and there's no guarantee of approval. Additionally, the higher cost of services in California may still outweigh the tax incentives.

The Grand Canyon State: Arizona

Arizona, while less known as a film industry hub, has a growing video production sector. Arizona offers diverse landscapes for filming, a burgeoning pool of talent, and a lower cost of living, making it an increasingly attractive alternative to California.

Arizona Tax Implications

Arizona's tax structure is generally more favorable for businesses. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the state sales tax is 5.6%, and with local taxes, the total can range, but it typically remains lower than California's tax rates.

Importantly for film and video production companies, Arizona has a sales tax exemption on machinery, equipment, and other tangible personal property used directly in producing, processing, fabricating, or storing motion picture films or tapes.

So, Arizona or California?

The choice between Arizona and California ultimately depends on your specific needs and budget. Here are some key factors to consider:

  1. Budget: If you're working with a tight budget, Arizona's lower taxes, cost of services, and cost of living might be more appealing.

  2. Talent and Resources: While both states have talented professionals, California has a more established industry network. However, Arizona's industry is growing rapidly, and with the lower costs, you might find you can do more with your budget in Arizona.

  3. Tax Credits and Exemptions: Both states offer tax incentives. California offers tax credits for eligible productions, while Arizona provides a sales tax exemption on production equipment. Understanding these incentives and how they apply to your production is critical.

  4. Project Requirements: Depending on your project's specific requirements, the benefits of one state may outweigh the other. Consider factors like desired filming locations, local talent needs, and proximity to other key resources.

In conclusion, both Arizona and California have their unique advantages when it comes to video production. Understanding the tax implications in each state is just one piece of the puzzle. Consider your project's scope, budget, and specific requirements to make an informed decision about where to base your video production.

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