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Behind the scenes of a film being shot in Missouri. Photo: Missouri Film Office.

New state tax credits target film productions, concerts

The film and music industries have long bypassed major investments in Missouri for states that offer tax incentives. That may change now that Gov. Mike Parson has signed legislation to provide tax credit from late this year through 2030.

Senate Bill 94 was sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg. Rep. Kurtis Gregory, R-Marshall, carried the bill in the Missouri House of Representatives.

“In order for recording artists to qualify for this, they have to also do two concerts in the state of Missouri,” Gregory, a former University of Missouri football player says. “If Taylor Swift comes and does a concert here, the economic impact out of that is unbelievable or when you fill up Arrowhead Stadium with 50,00 or 60,000 Kenny Chesney fans.”

Tax credits will be provided equal to 20 percent of qualifying film production expenses, along with additional credits if certain conditions are met. They will also be offered for live entertainment rehearsal and tour expenses equal to 30 percent of the cost.

“All the money has to be spent first before the credit actually goes out, unlike some other credits where you’re going to get it regardless and then maybe it doesn’t get spent,” he said. “So has to be spent. It has to be reviewed that they follow all the certain parameters that are laid out in order to receive the tax credit. And so, I think it’s just a huge boom to the state of Missouri. There are over 5,000 graduates a year in film production.”

Not everyone is a fan of tax credits, especially for movies that make less at the box office than the actual tax credit.

The ShowMe Institute’s Patrick Tuohey writes that “A study from the Beacon Center of Tennessee found that “using available box office data, over 40 percent of films that receive grants made less at the box office than they received in incentives.’ If we want to promote a good work ethic, let’s stick with rewarding filmmakers who apply their craft well, rather than filmmakers who merely apply for handouts.

It would be laudable if supporters of this proposal argued that Missouri’s taxes are too high, and that there would be more private investment if we lowered them. Instead, they are effectively saying ‘taxes are too high, and we’d like to lower them for one particular industry that we favor.”

Showme asserts that government should not be picking winners and losers, “It’s just bad policy,” Touhey wrote.

Missouri’s film tax credit program expired in 2013. It will up the ante to compete with Georgia, which has lured many productions to the state as a result of offering attractive film tax credits.

“We’ve got Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Branson, the Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, the Missouri River,” Gregory said. “In my district, we have Arrow Rock. You’ve got St. Joe. You’ve got Kearney, the home of Jesse James. Like there’s just so much historical stuff in the state of Missouri, lots of different places that can be filmed to make it look like you’re in the 1800s all the way up to modern day.”

Jeremy Cady of Americans for Prosperity countered that the government should not incentivize one industry over another.

The credit is welcome news for the Missouri Film Office, which works with production companies finding suitable sites in the state. The office has worked with some of the largest film production companies in the nation.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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