Film industry rallies to save Missouri tax credits

Film industry boosters urged state lawmakers on Tuesday to refrain from shouting “cut” when it comes to a tax credit program targeted for elimination in Missouri.

The $4.5 million annual program is among $220 million worth of incentives proposed for elimination by the state’s Tax Credit Review Commission. The panel was created by Gov. Jay Nixon to find ways to reduce Missouri’s array of income tax credits.

Members of the Missouri Motion Media Association said the commission underestimated the economic benefit of the state’s film industry. They pointed to the recent success of Oscar-hopeful “Winter’s Bone,” which was filmed in southwest Missouri, and the George Clooney movie “Up in the Air,” filmed in St. Louis.

“Without the state tax credits, we will have no film industry in Missouri,” said Shawn McClaren, a Hallmark film producer based in Kansas City who travels internationally to oversee the greeting card company’s family-friendly movies.

The tax credit commission recommended that the film industry’s share be redirected to a new tax credit program that would encourage “angel” investments in early-stage, technology-based Missouri companies.

“This tax credit serves too narrow of an industry and fails to provide a positive return on investment to the state,“ the commission concluded last week. ”There is currently no long-term opportunity for the location of production facilities for films in Missouri. Accordingly, the commission recommends that the credit be eliminated during the 2011 legislative session.”

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