Public Accountants and Film Accounting and Auditing
April 22, 2010 2 Comments
The various State and Provincial Film Tax Incentives have increased interest from public accountants (CPA’s and CA’s) in seminars and workshops in the area of film accounting within the film industry. Most of the Film Tax Incentive boards have a clause in their legislation that the auditor needs to be locally licensed, then it inevitably carries on with a broad statement that the auditor must be familiar with the film industry practices and standards.
What are the opportunities for Public Accountants?
Tax Incentive Administrator – Once the local governing body gets some experience they almost always start to see that the same public accountants who are helping the independent film producer prepare the initial application prior to production is the same public accountant who is doing the audit. Out of this gray area usually rises the need for a Tax Incentive Administrator. Someone who can track the application from beginning to end, stays in touch with the productions costs to ensure everything is being booked properly (in film production you can’t take this for granted) and then follows through on the final application for the tax incentive with the State. Once this administrative “post” has some experience they get on a first name basis with the appropriate people in key positions along the way (film commissions, bonding companies, banks, brokers if the that particula area has Transferable Tax Credits,etc) and their reputation will lead to many such contracts. For most productions over $3Mil a fair fee is about $20,000 to $25,000.
Public Auditor – This is a no-brainer, but how do you get assigned as the auditor? Who do you pitch? In the early stages you pitch the producers and the tax credit administrators (noted above), as well as the bonding companies, the financiers, etc. Who they are, exactly, is a matter of networking. In the film business, there just isn’t an easy way to find such people without being “involved” in the ‘biz. You’re limited by your imagination.
Tax Accountant/Consultant – Film Producers are usually congenitally unable to do tax returns, tax remittances, workers compensation registration and returns, quasi legal work like options agreements, etc etc. These are areas that a trusted CPA/CA/Enrolled Agent/CGA/etc could up-sell their services.
How Does a Public Accountant Get Familiar With Film Accounting Practices?
The only way I know is to attend one of my workshops. I am registered with the State of New York and the State of Florida as a “Licensed” sponsor – at least for the workshop entitled, “Film Accounting and Auditing”. Continuing Education in Canada also recognizes my workshops as “Qualified Hours” in Ontario. All of my workshops are designed to qualify as CPE under California, Michigan, Louisiana type rules. (Unfortunately, some States want the instructor to pay for a license and a review – like New York and Florida – so I only paid for the one course in those States).
See my web site at http://www.talkfilm.biz for the agenda and the when/where for a workshop near you. I have done workshops in Los Angeles, Detroit, Florida and New York. The next one is in Louisiana on Sun May 23rd/10.
Regards to all,
Veteran of 45 film and television productions of all sizes in 5 different countries. See IMDb for credits.
Link with me on LinkedIn to see announcements of workshop events.