Film, TV trade groups irked over building tax

New York City-based film and television production groups are unhappy with a new, $3,200 fee required for filming at some municipally owned buildings, which went into effect shortly before the end of last year. The fee, which applies to 54 New York City buildings operated by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, will affect shows such as “Gossip Girl,” “Law & Order” and “Ugly Betty.” “Law & Order” may feel a particular burn from the fee — it will also apply to film crews using the ever-present courthouses on the show. Officials contend that the fee is needed to help offset the administrative costs that the city incurs when film crews descend on government-owned buildings — last year, had the fee been in place, the city would have gained an additional $600,000 in revenue. But some industry experts say that this kind of levy could encourage other groups to tax film crews, which could drive business out of town. “What’s to stop the parks and sanitation departments or police stations or hospitals from instituting similar fees?” Vans Stevenson, senior vice president for state affairs at the Motion Picture Association of America, said. “We are living in a time when production costs and budgets are very tight, and these kinds of charges can make a difference in terms of the decision process.”

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