In the ongoing saga of Iowa’s criminal investigation of its film tax creditA tax credit is a provision that reduces a taxpayer’s final tax bill, dollar-for-dollar. A tax credit differs from deductions and exemptions, which reduce taxable income, rather than the taxpayer’s tax bill directly. program, the judge has ordered three separate trials for the defendants:
“I think we have to do it. I think that’s the right approach,” Polk County District Judge Arthur Gamble said in granting defense motions to separate the trials for Wendy Weiner Runge, Matthias Alexander Saunders and Zachary LeBeau, three Minnesota residents each charged with one class B felony count of ongoing criminal conduct and 11 class C felony counts of first-degree fraudulent practices for allegedly making false and inflated claims for state taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. credits involving multiple film projects.
The outside auditA tax audit is when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) conducts a formal investigation of financial information to verify an individual or corporation has accurately reported and paid their taxes. Selection can be at random, or due to unusual deductions or income reported on a tax return. or’s report described a film office in chaos, with fragmentary records, no support staff, and almost no documentation to support the giveaway that could amount to $121 per Iowan. Credits were claimed for non-cash expenses such as “consideration” for having your name in the credits, and even for the costs of brokering the credits. They were also issued in advance of expenses. Strawman Iowa LLCs were used to claim credits for non-Iowa expenses.
The problems in Iowa’s tax credit program could easily be found in other states.
Governor Chet Culver now is calling for an end to the film tax credit program:
Governor Chet Culver says once the existing state commitments are met, the state tax credit program for film and TV productions in Iowa should be shut down.
“We’re not going to be taken for suckers,” Culver told reporters late this morning during a statehouse news conference. “People, unfortunately, exploited that program.”
The Iowa Motion Picture Association is calling for the program’s continuation.
- Corporate Welfare for Movie Producers Returns to Iowa, by Mark Robyn, August 31, 2010
- Sudden Retirement of Michigan Film Office Director May Be Linked to Tax Credit Boondoggle, by William Ahern, June 18, 2010
- Film Tax Credits Losing Their Appeal, by William Ahern, June 11, 2010
- Criminal Charges Filed Against Ex-Head of Iowa Film Office, Filmmakers, by Joseph Henchman, February 9, 2010
- More on Iowa Film Credits and Why Tax Reform is So Difficult, by Mark Robyn, February 4, 2010
- Film Industry to Iowa: Make Our Corrupt Tax Credit Bigger, by William Ahern, February 4, 2010
- New Podcast: Joe Kristan on Film Tax Credits in Iowa, by Natasha Altamirano, January 20, 2010
- Iowa Governor Appoints Panel to Determine Effectiveness of Tax Credits, by Joseph Henchman, November 25, 2009
- Connecting the Dots in Iowa, by Mark Robyn, October 20, 2009
- Iowa Film Credit Report Reveals More Problems; Criminal Investigation Forthcoming, by Mark Robyn, October 5, 2009
- Iowa Governor Wants a Review of All Tax Credits, by Mark Robyn, September 28, 2009
- Iowa Officials May Be Trying to Get Out of Bad Film Tax Credit Deals, by Mark Robyn, September 24, 2009
- Corruption and Abuse in Iowa’s Film Tax Credit Program, by Mark Robyn, September 22, 2009