Newsman Edward R. Murrow famously said that television is a vast wasteland. But that doesn't stop millions of Americans from tuning in every night for their favorite comedians. Jay Leno, David Letterman, the two Jimmies (Fallon and Kimmel), and a host of others on cable attempt to make us laugh every night as our chins nod and our eyes droop.  

NBC's Tonight Show has been broadcasting since 1954, which makes it the longest-running entertainment program on air. Amazingly, it's had just five hosts since its inception (including Conan O'Brien’s eight turbulent months during the 2008-2009 season before the reigns were handed back to Leno). Last week, NBC confirmed Hollywood's worst-kept secret that Leno would be giving up his chair to current Late Night host Jimmy Fallon.  

In addition to the new host, the legendary show will also be leaving "beautiful downtown Burbank," and returning to New York's 30 Rockefeller Plaza. There are lots of reasons to move back to the East Coast, including the fact that its new host and its new producer are both already headquartered there. But there's also another, behind-the-scenes reason that might be more important than all the rest: taxes.  

Hosting a program like The Tonight Show is big business, and states naturally compete for the entertainment industry to bring their big Hollywood tax dollars to their state. New York decided to play hardball, and Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York state legislature passed a sweetheart tax deal, dubbed the "Jimmy Fallon tax credit," to lure The Tonight Show back. The credit is available to "a talk or variety program that filmed at least five seasons outside the state prior to its first relocated season in New York." The show has to have a budget of more than $30 million or drop at least $10 million in capital expenses every year. It has to be filmed before a studio audience of at least 200 people. The credit is worth 30% of production costs. Remember, a tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in tax, not a deduction from taxable income. Assuming the show spends $30 million on production, that means $9 million in New York tax savings to parent company NBC. That's not a bad little bonus for a program that's estimated to make between $25 and $40 million per year!  

The legislative language for the tax credit is suspiciously specific, but it got the job done. It’s unlikely that any of us will ever have a carrot that delicious dangle in front of us, but there are still plenty of tax credits available to individuals and businesses of any size. Make sure you stay proactive and find the best incentives to maximize your return!