Bipartisan support to re-establish Missouri’s film tax credit program

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Similar bills with bipartisan support intend to establish the “Show MO Act,” a tax credit program for film and television production. 

Currently, Kansas City is the only place offering a film tax credit in Missouri while the statewide credit expired in 2013. The statewide tax break previously brought millions of dollars to the state, and many groups have been working to push the policy through. 

“We want to be in the entertainment business. We want to have a piece of that pie,” Missouri Motion Media Association President Michelle Davidson told KCTV5. “The only way that will happen is if our state legislators believe in this industry and what to create an opportunity for us to attract those businesses.”

Carrying the Show MO Act are Senate Bills 732, 721 and House Bill 2099 – all of which have bipartisan support. Sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, SB 732 passed through the Economic Development Committee in late January. SB 721, sponsored by Sen. Angela Mosley, D-St. Louis County, is awaiting a hearing in the same committee. 

HB 2099, sponsored by Rep. Brian Seitz, R-Branson, is waiting in the Tourism Committee.

The proposal is different from past ones because not only does it give a tax credit for the production of feature films, but also for episodic series made for streaming services. Previous bills failed because they did not include a provision for series.

Under the legislation, producers who shoot their projects in Missouri, along with spending a certain amount of money and hiring Missourians, could receive a tax credit of up to 20% of qualifying expenses associated with their project.  

The last movie shot in Missouri under the previous tax credit structure was the 2014 film “Gone Girl,” which brought an estimated $8 million to the Cape Girardeau area. Recently, a show that was set to be called “Kansas City” left the area to be filmed in Oklahoma. 

“I don’t know if there’s time to change that, but we can’t let that happen again,” Davidson said. “We can’t have an Ozark that’s filmed in Georgia. We can’t have a show that’s supposed to be filmed in Kansas City move to Oklahoma. We’ve got to be competitive.”

However, many opponents of the film tax credit believe it is not a sound investment of tax dollars, nor is it the government’s responsibility to incentivize films to move their operations to Missouri. 

“I 100% do not believe the film tax credits are a good idea,” Sen. Holly Rehder, R-Scott City, said. “I don’t think it’s the role of government. Especially doling them out to out-of-state companies from Hollywood that mock us and hate our way of life. Return on investment has also proven to not be there, so for many reasons I don’t think it’s a proper use of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

Although the Show MO Act has some bipartisan support, there’s still heavy opposition from several conservatives who have a record of opposing tax credits. Missourians can expect spirited debate in both chambers as the measures move through the legislature. 

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