Missouri’s Film Tax Credit Should Remain Gone
Many Missourians—including myself—took pride in watching Gone Girl on the silver screen. Now with an Oscar nomination to add to the DVD cover, some Missouri lawmakers are attempting to reinstate the film tax credit in an effort to bring even more Oscar-worthy productions to the state.
However, we should not be over-eager in offering handouts to Hollywood. Other than pride, we get little in return. As we have written before, the film tax credit has been ineffective in spurring economic development and leaves Missouri taxpayers to pick up the bill for mega-million-dollar moguls.
The intent of the film tax credit program is to provide initial seed money in an effort to create a sustainable film industry. Yet, despite the fact that Missouri offered a film tax credit for nearly 15 years, the state never became a major hub for film production. In light of this, Missouri’s own Tax Credit Review Commission wrote in their 2010 report that the film tax credit should be cut because it “serves too narrow of an industry and fails to provide a positive return on investment to the state.”
The failure of this program comes from the nature of Hollywood productions. Since nearly 40 states offer similar programs, Hollywood studios can simply wait and see which state will offer the most money for their production. With scarce resources and tight budget constraints, Missouri should not go head to head with states like New York and California on who can hand out more wasteful tax credits.
The success of Gone Girl should not overshadow the fact that the film tax credit program is bad policy for Missouri. If lawmakers are truly determined to bring more economic development to the state, then they should lower taxes for all businesses instead of offering handouts to billion-dollar industries.