SB 185: More Cash Rebates and Tax Credits for the Film Industry
This bill passed the Senate 15-10 but was not voted on in the House.
Every year, over five million dollars would be withheld from the state’s education fund due to tax incentives for motion picture productions if Senate Bill 185 is passed. Senator Jake Anderegg is sponsoring this legislation which would allow the post-production of films to receive tax incentives in Utah.
SB 185 also nearly doubles the amount of tax credits that the Governor’s Office of Economic Development can award for film incentives, now nearing $12 million.
The bill also removes a cap on cash rebates provided to film projects. Currently, a state-approved film production cannot receive more than $500,000 in a cash rebate. SB 185 eliminates this cap, allowing much higher cash awards to be given to film projects.
Allowing the multi-billion dollar film industry to take advantage of preferential tax credits and heavy cash rebates is not good fiscal policy; similar industries are not treated the same. Post-production typically involves people working on computers in an office—a far cry from typical film production that involves potentially hundreds of people buying supplies and paying for locations around the state, investing money in the local economy. Other computer-related businesses are not given such favorable tax treatment, creating an unequal, anti-competitive industry landscape.
Utah offers the unique advantage of beautiful landscapes including multiple national monuments, mountains, ski resorts, and natural areas. All of these things act as natural incentives for Hollywood to come shoot movies here, without giving them taxpayer funds. If the goal is to attract more business opportunities in Utah, a better policy would be to lower business regulations and taxes across the board, rather than increasing cash rebates and unequally handing out tax credits.