If you like forking over your hard-earned dollars to woke Hollywood liberals, Arizona lawmakers have you covered.
Last month, the state legislature took on the role of “Minions” for the film industry. As you may recall, the Club previously fought against a movie tax credit bill known as SB1708. After passing the Senate, it failed in the House. But in a shady move, Senate Appropriations Chairman David Gowan resurrected the effort through a strike-everything amendment to HB2156, declaring that Hollywood subsidies were his top issue in budget negotiations and any budget agreement was contingent on its passage. A few days later, the bill passed when a handful of Republicans joined every Democrat to support it. Governor Ducey allowed the bill to become law without his signature on July 6th…
So, how much Hollywood corporate welfare will Arizona taxpayers be on the hook for?
It is no secret that the Club is critical of special interest tax credit programs that distort our tax code and pick winners and losers in the market. Though a few of these tax credits have been enacted by the legislature over the years, there is one program on the books that has grown into the billions and has successfully evaded any real scrutiny: the Research and Development tax credit program.
The Research and Development tax credit program piggybacks off the federal program and operates under the premise that it will increase the amount of investment corporations make in Arizona on research and development. The program is very generous, allowing corporations to claim a 24% credit on the first $2.5M in qualifying expenses and an additional 15% up and above the $2.5M. If a corporation effectively eliminates their tax liability, they are allowed to carry forward the excess credits for up to 10 years. For businesses with fewer than 150 employees, the pot is even sweeter…
Arizona lawmakers are currently living in “La La Land.” No, really. They want to dole out $150 million of your dollars to sign checks to woke Hollywood producers to literally California our Arizona.
SB1708, sponsored by Senator David Gowan, passed out of the Senate last week by a vote of 21-7. It provides a tax credit for a percentage of movie production costs: 15% for productions up to $10 million, 17.5% for productions between $10 and $35 million, 20% for productions over $35 million, and the opportunity for an extra 2.5% on top for positions held by Arizona residents, if the production is filmed in a qualified facility or primarily on location, or if it was produced in association with a long-term tenant in a qualified production facility.
The worst part—it’s refundable. This means that if Hollywood producers wipe out their tax liability to zero, the remaining tax credits come as a check from you, the taxpayer.