To promote Maharashtra as a destination for film shoots, the state tourism department is considering offering exemptions in entertainment tax on movie tickets, even a hundred percent waiver in certain cases, for films that spend a large part of their shooting schedules in the state.
However, the waiver, which will make movie tickets cheaper, will not be applicable to the main cities of Maharashtra – Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.
A senior official from the tourism department said, “Offering entertainment tax exemptions in these cities will lead to a huge financial dent on the state. Besides, when film-makers typically shoot in Maharashtra, they mostly do so in cities like Mumbai and Pune. We want to promote other cities, towns and the countryside as film shoot destinations.”
The official added that besides promoting these places as tourist destinations, considering the proven impact of Bollywood on tourism, it will also help generate a lot of indirect employment.
As per the draft, the tourism department has proposed a 100 per cent waiver in entertainment tax on movie tickets if a film-maker spends more than 75 percent of the shooting schedule in Maharashtra. Similarly, the department has proposed to extend a 50 percent waiver in entertainment tax on movie tickets if the film-maker spends 50-74 percent of the total number of dates allotted to shooting the film in Maharashtra.
Currently, the Maharashtra government charges an entertainment tax of 45 percent for movie tickets priced under
Rs 250. The tax stands at 49.5 percent for tickets priced at Rs 251-350, 51.75 percent for tickets costing between Rs 351 and 500 and 54 percent for anything more than that.
It is said to be one of the costliest tax regimes for the film industry in the country and there has been a long-standing demand from the industry for lowering the entertainment tax.
In the last fiscal, entertainment tax fetched Rs 725 crore revenue, and the government targets to rake in above Rs 800 crore this year.
The tourism department official said, “We have not yet sought the opinion of the finance and revenue departments on the proposal. We have opened the entire draft policy for suggestions and objections from the public and stakeholders, and will circulate it to all government departments after receiving feedback from people.”
Separately, the tourism department is also in talks with the state revenue department to explore entertainment tax sops for live performances in Mumbai, with the levy being one of the country’s highest right now and driving international music and entertainment groups to other cities and states.
The state government is also working on reducing the number of clearances required for film shoots in Maharashtra and introducing a single-window clearance.