Film Tax Credits: The Campy-est Zombie Movie You Ever Did See
Are you a fan of director George Romero's Living Dead work? Then let me pitch you a movie.
The scene: Jefferson City, at the state capitol. Government officials want to give taxpayer money to wealthy business interests so that they'll produce movies in the Show-Me state, even though they know it's a waste of funds. And then there's the twist! Imagine that this proposal kept dying, and then kept coming back year after year after year…
In other words, it's a zombie movie.
Scary, right? Well…
Missouri's film tax incentive program expired in 2013, but there are signs that film tax credits are coming back to life in the Show Me State. . . . HB 1645 has been introduced which would reinstate the film tax incentive program in Missouri. Under the bill, companies could get a credit of 20 percent for qualifying expenses, both in and out of the state. They would be able to get an additional 5 percent credit if at least 50 percent of the project were filmed in Missouri.
Our stance on economic development tax credits is pretty well-known; we would rather have market forces decide what a good investment is rather than have the government act as a sugar daddy for special interests. That rule of thumb for tax credits generally holds true for film tax credits, as well. Instead of paying for goodies for George Clooney, government should focus on, well, governing. Maintaining infrastructure. Protecting the public. Providing a stable and low-tax climate.
Also, not producing movies. Did I mention government shouldn't be producing movies? Good.
I appreciate that getting into the movie business sounds fun, but if Missouri policymakers want to act like directors, they should do it with their own money, not yours. Film tax credits are wasteful, and rather than be resurrected, they should stay dead in Missouri. Taxpayers don't need another terrible remake of this bad policy.