2020 Bills

SB 81: More Cash Rebates and Tax Credits for the Film Industry

This bill passed the senate with a vote of 23-1, and passed the house with a vote of 50-21.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it violates our principles and must therefore be opposed.

Filmmakers that produce TV shows and movies in Utah can receive millions of dollars in tax credits every year. Senator Daniel Thatcher would like to increase the opportunity for even further tax credits and cash rebates with his sponsorship of Senate Bill 81. In addition to the cash rebate increase, the bill would also expand the ability of filmmakers to receive these tax breaks for post-production film work—basically sitting in an office editing video on a computer.

The concept of the bill is to encourage and attract filmmakers to do their work in Utah in order to continue economic growth while providing local jobs. That may sound great in theory, but in reality, post production film work typically involves a smaller number of individuals working on computers in an office. This isn’t something that would create hundreds of jobs for Utahn’s—so is it fair policy to give thousands or even millions of dollars in tax breaks to a billion-dollar film industry? Probably not. Local computer-based companies shouldn’t be punished by paying more in taxes than film companies.

This bill is not a new piece of legislation. Past attempts in 2019 and 2018 failed to pass.

From deserts to mountains, Utah is a uniquely beautiful state with vast diversity in the landscape. This alone acts as a great incentive for filmmakers to bring their business to our great state—without unfair tax waivers.