Film production incentives: now one-third of US states are out

In 2009, only 6 U.S. states didn’t have tax credits for film production. They had gotten into what The Economist called “a stupid trend,” “silly,” and a “beggar-thy-neighbor trade war.” The number of states providing film incentives went from four in 2002 to 44 in 2009.

North Carolina joined the silliness in 2005. Not 1995, not 1985, and definitely not 1975. 2005.

That’s a fact worth remembering when film cronies try to make you think Bull Durham, Dirty Dancing, Last of the Mohicans, and other favorite NC films of all time wouldn’t be were it not for film incentives.

Since then, however, states have been waking up to the game. By 2013 over one-fourth of U.S. states were not doing film incentives. Now up to 16 U.S. states are not doing film incentives. That’s a third of the country. They are:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

Here’s why: the programs return a just handful of change per dollar of revenue spent. This chart illustrates the findings of many other studies conducted for various state agencies or legislatures of their film incentives programs:

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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