Just when you thought a 40-45% tax credit was huge, here’s another remarkable program to swoop in and save the day!  

We’re always investigating ways to help you save. Cuz when you save, we save, and everybody wins 💥💥💥

We understand sales tax can get heavy, especially for big productions. But, when you have the right production partners 😉 there’s actually quite a few different ways to reduce your costs and streamline the budget.

Here, we take a quick peek at how you can take advantage of some of these ample tax programs in New York. 

Waving away sales tax is one of the best programs NYS has to offer for us folks in the Industry. Read on…

What is New York State’s Sales Tax Exemption Program?

New York’s tax credit programs have been instrumental in the growth of the state’s film industry. One of the many tax benefits associated with filming in New York State is the Sales Tax Exemption Program offered through The Governor’s Office of Motion Picture & Television Development (MPTV).

And while it’s one of the benefits of filming in New York, it’s not entirely clear how to sign up to receive the exemption. 

Here, we’ll take a look at New York State’s Sales Tax Exemption Program, the credits available, and the latest regulation changes.

The Purpose Behind the Program

The tax benefits are offered in New York State to encourage film production and bring more jobs to the region.

What Does it Cover?

Film and video productions get a sales tax exemption for all production consumables, equipment rentals, purchases, and related services. 

The exemptions cover almost every aspect of film, video production, and post-production. To qualify, the production company must register as a vendor with New York State.

The term film includes, but is not limited to:

  • feature films
  • television films
  • commercials
  • documentary films and shorts
  • similar film and video productions

Film production activities that are eligible for the exemption from sales tax are:

  • pre-production
  • production
  • post-production
  • sale and distribution

Ready to Apply?

Start by downloading a copy of Publication 28: A Guide to Sales Tax for the Film Industry. It uses plain English to describe everything you need to know to receive the sales and use tax exemptions.

You must first apply online for a Certificate of Authority with New York State’s Department of Taxation and Finance. The website says processing time averages to about five days. However, Publication 28 mentions leaving room for a 20-day lead time ahead of the first day of pre-production.

Would you prefer to mail your completed form rather than apply online?

Alternatively, you can download, print, and fill out Form DTF-17.1, Application for Registration as a Sales Tax Vendor, and the Instructions for Form DTF-17

Remember to keep a copy for your records. Mail the completed original to

NYS Tax Department
Sales Tax Registration Unit 
W A Harriman Campus
Albany, NY 12227

Upon approval, you’ll be issued a Certificate of Authority, which will display your vendor identification number. Make sure to display your certificate everywhere you’re filming.

To Claim an Exemption

To request an exemption when making exempt purchases of tangible personal property used directly and predominantly in the production of a film, your suppliers will need your completed Form ST-121: Exempt Use Certificate.

Tangible Personal Property Used in Film Production

Tangible personal property used or consumed directly in the production of a film for sale may be purchased, leased, or rented, exempt from sales tax. 

Property is used predominantly in film production if more than 50% of its use is directly in the production of a film. 

Services to Property Used in Film Production:

Services that you purchase for tangible personal property used predominantly in the production of a film are exempt from sales tax. 

Utilities, Utility Services, and Fuel Used in Film Production:

Gas, electricity, refrigeration, steam, and fuel that you purchase for use or consumption directly and exclusively in the production of a film are exempt from tax. 

What’s exempt and what is not:

  • Electricity for actors’ trailers is taxable.
  • Electricity for office is taxable.
  • Electricity used by set lighting equipment is exempt.
  • Gasoline or diesel motor fuel used by a vehicle moving equipment to another location is taxable.
  • Gasoline or diesel motor fuel used by a vehicle used as a prop in a commercial is exempt.

To purchase utilities and utility services exempt from tax, you must issue a properly completed Form ST-121, Exempt Use Certificate, to your supplier.

To claim an exemption for gasoline and/or diesel used directly in film production, you must pay the sales tax at the time of purchase. You’ll then claim a refund of the tax paid by filing Form FT-500, Application for Refund of Sales Tax on Automotive Fuels.

You Must File Sales Tax Returns

For sales tax purposes, once you receive your Certificate of Authority, you are considered to be in business, even if you never make a sale.

Filing sales tax reports on time is important. Filing late could cost you penalties. Filing sales tax returns online is easy using the Tax Department’s Online Services

Summing it Up

Filming in New York makes good business sense. Doing so opens up financial benefits that you won’t see anywhere else. Their sales tax exemption could save a production anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. These exemptions could help offset other production costs.

New York State offers optimal filming locations across the state. The financial benefits of filming here can vastly offset other production expenses and streamline production costs.

Any more questions?

Let’s talk.

Want to learn about virtual production and how to use it?

Cobalt’s got you covered. As the first company to offer Virtual Sets on the East Coast, we have the experience to guide you. Let’s have some fun.


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