The silliness of Florida’s film tax incentives
Tampa’s Bay News 9 reports:
Hollywood producers have been scouting the streets of Ybor City for an upcoming Ben Affleck film called “Live By Night.” Filmmakers for a second major motion picture called “The Infiltrator” are clamoring to shoot in Tampa, too.
But the Bay area may lose out on the opportunity.
“There are no more tax credits,” said Dale Gordon, head of Tampa/Hillsborough’s Film and Digital Media Commission. “So these projects are not able to commit to coming to our market until they have some sense of security over whether our tax credit program is going to be refunded.”
It would, of course, be a shame if noted Africa policy expert Ben Affleck did not receive subsidies from the people of Florida for his latest film venture. Though as the story also notes, if Florida is unwilling to pony up to subsidize Mr. Affleck’s production costs, there are many other states and municipalities who are willing to do so.
Proponents of the tax credit, of course, argue that film tax credits are great for the economy. To support this conclusion, they cite research best described as spurious, arguing for instance, “One study showed for every $1 a movie receives in state tax incentives, $5 gets pumped back into the local economy.” That’s quite a multiplier, far beyond what’s typically claimed by even the most vocal fans of targeted tax credits, which is a good indication it’s complete and utter bollocks.
Fortunately, the Tax Foundation has dispensed with this nonsense, time and time again.
The last graf of the article is particularly amusing:
Florida’s incentive program is one of the most fiscally responsible in the nation. It only gives credits after the films spend locally. The money also only goes toward the film’s Florida-based work force, and Florida-based expenditures.
There is, of course, nothing fiscally responsible about targeted tax credits; they’re at best a form of industrial policy and at worst a pure transfer to the already wealthy.
After I tweeted that graf, Townhall.com’s Kevin Glass tweeted back at me:
@danrothschild “Florida’s heroin addicts are some of the most responsible heroin addicts in the nation!”
— Kevin W. Glass (@KevinWGlass) February 20, 2014
That pretty much sums it up.