OKLAHOMA CITY – State Senator Micheal Bergstrom filed a bill this week to move the existing sunset date for the film industry tax credit program from July 1, 2024 to January 1, 2018. Citing the anticipated continuing budget hole this year, Bergstrom, R- Adair, said accelerating the expiration of the program will save money that can be used in other crucial core areas like education.
The current film credit program, also known as the Compete with Canada Film Act, was originally signed into law in 2001 and was renewed in 2014 by HB 2580 to extend into 2024. Senate Bill 41 would retire the tax incentive eight years before it’s currently due to expire.
“The intent of the program was to bring revenue to Oklahoma and the Incentive Evaluation Committee has determined the film tax credit has not been as productive as originally anticipated,” said Bergstrom. “It’s not fulfilling the original intent and is costing taxpayers more than it brings in benefits to Oklahoma.”
According to the final 2016 report from the Incentive Evaluation Committee, the goals of the tax incentive were to attract film and television production to Oklahoma, generate jobs for state residents, foster investment in Oklahoma businesses and enhance the state’s image across the nation.
The program has a cap of $5 million per fiscal year.
“It makes far more sense to redirect that funding to areas of immediate need, like education, corrections and mental health funding,” said Bergstrom.
The committee’s recommendation last month was to allow the film enhancement rebate to sunset as scheduled in 2024. Bergstrom sees the economic benefit of an even earlier sunset date.
“The data shows the film credit does not provide sustainable economic development and generates minimal return on the state’s investment,” said Bergstrom. “I believe it’s a much better use of taxpayer dollars to redirect the funds towards programs that offer a more lasting benefit to the state.”