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In the last decade, state governments have enacted numerous movie production incentives (MPIs), including tax credits for film production. MPIs are popular with state officials and many of their constituents but often escape routine oversight about benefits, costs and activities. Based on fanciful estimates of economic activity and tax revenue, states invest in movie production projects with small returns and take unnecessary risks with taxpayer dollars.
MPIs fail to live up to their promises to encourage economic growth overall and to raise tax revenue. States claim MPIs create jobs, but the jobs created are mostly temporary positions—often transplanted from other states—with limited options for upward mobility. Furthermore, the competition among states transfers a large portion of potential gains to the movie industry, not to local businesses or state coffers.