Corporate Welfare for Movie Producers Returns to Iowa

August 31, 2010

Iowa is once again funneling taxpayer dollars to the film industry. The Tax Update Blog has been following this gripping tale of corruption, celebrities, and nine-figure price tags since day one:

The film program collapsed in scandal last fall, and the film office director and two filmmakers face criminal charges. Iowa is on the hook for $200 million for credits already committed — about $66 per Iowan.

Because of this scandal Iowa temporarily stopped shamelessly handing out cash to filmmakers, but the gravy train is up and running again. Iowa lawmakers have not learned the broader lesson: film tax credits should be eliminated permanently because they are terrible tax policy. One of most egregious forms of corporate welfare, film tax credits take money from the taxpayers and funnel it to filmmakers. The claims of economic benefits and job creation are greatly exaggerated (assuming you can even call a job shifted from one state to another a job “created”) and ignore the opportunity cost of such tax expenditures (like funding essential government services, or reducing taxes). Film tax credits are yet another example of a politically well-connected special interest group securing subsidies for itself at the cost of the rest of the state’s taxpayers and businesses.

For much more on film tax credits, see our Special Report on the topic or visit this section of our site.

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