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Study: Film Tax Credits Are a Waste of Money

Are film tax credits worth it? A new reports suggests it's just a waste of money.

Nowadays, every major motion picture has received some sort of tax credits in order to produce their movies. From Ant-Man to Iron Man 3, movie studios are heading to states and countries that use tax payers money in order to produce their productions.

“Pure and simple: film and tax incentives create jobs, expand revenue pools and stimulate local economies.”

Supporters of film tax credits argue that tax credits provide higher paying jobs for locals and the credits incentives pay for themselves by boosting the economy and increasing government revenues. In fact, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) says “Pure and simple: film and tax incentives create jobs, expand revenue pools and stimulate local economies.” But, according to a scathing report by the Wall Street Journal, tax incentives are essentially a waste of money and hurt the people they are supposed to help. The WSJ points to a 2010 study that found that “State film subsidies are a wasteful, ineffective, and unfair instrument of economic development.”

 “State film subsidies are a wasteful, ineffective, and unfair instrument of economic development.”

Another study in 2014 by the North Carolina General Assembly's Fiscal Research Division found that a large percentage of the film tax credits were wasted: “For every dollar North Carolina allocates to the state film production credit it loses 54 cents.” Gotham TV Set a katz / Shutterstock.com Here's where it gets worse.

It would be more sensible to give 100 unemployed people briefcases with $100,000 in cash.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The jobs picture was bleaker. Looking at 2011, the Fiscal Research Division found $30 million in credits created 55 to 70 new jobs with a total payroll of $2 million.

State taxpayers forked over between $429,000 and $545,000 a job, and these positions paid an average salary of $36,000 a year.

It would be more sensible to give 100 unemployed people briefcases with $100,000 in cash.

A study by the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research found "it produced a measly 43-cent return on every dollar spent. And the jobs that were “created” were temporary, including many out-of-state fly-ins." To add insult to injury, Florida's and North Carolina tax credit program were among the most successful in the country. Here's a break down of the return on investment for every state's film tax credit program:
  • Connecticut (7 cents)
  • Michigan (11 cents)
  • Louisiana (13-18 cents)
  • New Mexico (14 cents)
  • Massachusetts (16 cents)
  • Pennsylvania (24 cents)
  • Arizona (28 cents)
The lack of a return on investment and job opportunities for locals explains why so many film tax credit states rarely last. That's why Louisiana, Florida and North Carolina all got rid of their film tax credits in the past two years. And they are not alone.

Michigan and New Jersey ended their handouts earlier this summer, while Louisiana capped its subsidies—albeit after doling out more than $1 billion in the past five years. Arizona, Idaho, Indiana and Missouri have also either rolled back or shut down their programs in recent years.

But, Georgia's film industry thrives off of film tax credits and according to a report by the AJC, Gov. Nathan Deal is facing an up hill battle to keep the film tax credits within the state of Georgia. But, the Governor of Georgia is not going to take it sitting down. “So let me state here and now that I am committed to protecting the film tax credits that make this type of blockbuster economic impact possible,” Gov. Nathan Deal said. a katz / Shutterstock.com

“So let me state here and now that I am committed to protecting the film tax credits that make this type of blockbuster economic impact possible”

If Georgia's film industry does collapse due to the lack of film tax credit then it is extremely bad news for a state's film industry is currently ranked third in the world, provides thousands of jobs to aspiring actors and is building a brand new film school for Georgia filmmakers.

What do you think? Are Film Tax Credits a waste of money? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below!

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