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Sudden Retirement of Michigan Film Office Director May Be Linked to Tax Credit Boondoggle

1 min readBy: William Ahern

It’s bad news whenever state legislatures enact bigger budgets than they can afford, but it’s especially disheartening afterward to see state officials fritter away millions trying to “invest” in film projects.

WOOD TV in Michigan is reporting that the sudden retirement of the state’s film office director (Janet Lockwood) may have been prompted by her embarrassing promotion of a 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. boondoggle. (The Mackinac Center for Public Policy first reported on the revelations.) That would put Michigan in the same boat as Iowa whose totally unaccountable film promotion office was giving away millions without a trace.

We have published a comprehensive study of the issue; and here’s a compendium of short pieces we’ve written decrying film 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. The enactment of generous tax credits for film production is a trend that has swept state capitols over the past decade. Luckily, the pendulum may be swinging back: Arizona let its temporary film tax credit expire; New Jersey’s new governor is vowing to abolish the state credit; and under fire, Iowa suspended its film tax credits. Michigan should join this backlash, and the state’s premier think tank is urging just that, but Gov. Granholm has probably invested too much of her credibility in the program to reverse course.

Last week’s blog post on Janet Lockwood’s censorship here.