The Beacon Center of Tennessee just released a policy brief on Tennessee’s film incentive program. The report—Calling Cut on Film Incentives—highlights how the program is a poor investment for Tennessee taxpayers.
Many of the projects financially supported by the film incentive program with taxpayer money performed poorly commercially. According to the report, 40 percent of the projects subsidized in Tennessee have made less at the box office than they received in subsidies. Several subsidized TV shows had only a few episodes broadcast.
While the program picks winners, taxpayers are the losers.
Taxpayer money supported filming commercials for successful private companies. Additionally, while the goal of the program is to bring new projects and tax revenues to the state of Tennessee, several productions received incentives with only a small share of their budget spent in the state. One movie, for example, received a six-figure incentive while only spending 1.8 percent of its budget in Tennessee.
Finally, the report gives an example of how private businesses receiving taxpayer money may end up holding government—and hence taxpayers—hostage.
The Beacon Center reports that the show “Nashville” considered moving to Austin, Texas if they did not receive additional incentives after the second season. This situation happened before with the state of Maryland and the show “House of Cards.” This also happens often with corporations and sports teams.
The Foundation has noted that film incentives are a bad deal for taxpayers and they should end. The role of a limited government is not to support any particular industry over others; it should instead get out of the way by limiting taxes and regulations for everyone, not just a few.