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‘House of Cards’ Producers Threatened With Property Seizure in Tax Incentive Showdown

Move comes after production company says it might pull up stakes if the tax incentives don’t keep coming

The battle of wills between “House of Cards” and the state of Maryland has been kicked up a notch.

The state’s House of Delegates has adopted budget language allowing the state to seize “House of Cards” producer Media Rights Capital’s property if it chooses to stop filming in the state.

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The language, introduced by delegate Bill Frick, cites the power of eminent domain, stating that the Department of Legislature has the right “to acquire by purchase or condemnation for public use with just compensation real, tangible and intangible private property in the state owned by a qualified film production entity” if the company “has claimed more than $10 million in credits against the state income tax for film production activities” and “ceases film production activity in the state.”

The language is in response to a letter sent by Media Rights Capital Vice President Charlie Goldstein to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, saying that that the Netflix series would pull up stakes and look for another state to film in if the show did not continue to receive tax breaks for future seasons.

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“I wanted you to be aware that we are required to look at other states in which to film on the off chance that the legislation does not pass, or does not cover the amount of tax credits for which we would qualify,” Charlie Goldstein, MRC’s vice president, wrote O’Malley. “I am sure you can understand that we would not be responsible financiers and a successful production company if we did not have viable options available.”

The series, starring Kevin Spacey as Machiavellian politico Frank Underwood, has filmed two seasons in the state — receiving $11 million in tax breaks for the first season and up to $15 million for the second season.

Maryland’s legislature has authorized $40 million in incentives for television and film productions in recent years. However, the state has rolled back the fund for production incentives from $25 million in 2013 to $7.5 million, — though there are bills floating around what would increase the available 2014 funds to $18 million.

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Media Rights Capital had no comment for TheWrap on the new amendment, but noted, “We have had wonderful experiences filming the past two seasons of “House of Cards” in the State of Maryland and love shooting here.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.