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'Cut - And That's a Wrap' – The Film Industry’s Fleecing of State Tax Incentive Programs

Posted: 15 Sep 2013 Last revised: 14 May 2014

Randle B. Pollard

American University Washington College of Law

Date Written: July 19, 2013


States continue to rely on tax incentive programs to attract and retain businesses and to grow their economies through increased job creation and private capital investment. Most state tax incentive programs are focused on four major industries: manufacturing, agriculture, energy (oil, gas and mining), and the film industry. The cost of tax incentive programs in forgone revenue or direct expenditures continues to increase yearly as states receive less federal funding yet feel the need to compete with other states to attract and retain businesses. The accountability of these programs – “does the cost of the incentives produce the tax development and job growth promised by the recipient businesses?”, is increasingly questioned as recent reports of failed tax incentive programs that do not produce the promised tax returns can be found throughout the United States. This Article focuses on the success of state tax incentives in the film industry. The industry shares the same issues of accountability as other industries but there are more abuses and fraud reported. States have limited resources and cannot afford costly multi-million dollar tax incentive programs for the film industry that do not produce the promised results. This Article argues that states should reexamine the need for the incentives and curtail their film industry incentive programs according to the likelihood of film production in their state. States that maintain or increase their film industry incentives programs should institute limits on incentives awarded and create more accountability of performance on film industry production companies.

Keywords: state tax, incentives, economic incentives, film industry

Suggested Citation

Pollard, Randle B., 'Cut - And That's a Wrap' – The Film Industry’s Fleecing of State Tax Incentive Programs (July 19, 2013). Available at SSRN:

Randle B. Pollard (Contact Author)

American University Washington College of Law ( email )

Washington, DC
United States
317-698-2787 (Phone)
202-827-0046 (Fax)

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