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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Lawmakers Push For Tax Credit For Film Industry

The House chamber at the Montana Legislature during the 2019 session.
Nick Mott
Montana Public Radio
The House chamber at the Montana Legislature.

HELENA -- The Montana House of Representatives advanced a bill 84-16 Tuesday that would give an income tax credit to film production companies.

Rep. David Bedey, R-Hamilton, voted for House Bill 293. He said tapping into the film industry would only benefit Montana and the state has to incentivize filmmakers.

“If we wish to grow our economy and diversify our economy and attract this industry into our state, we must compete with other states, that’s the fact of the matter in the film business now,” Bedey said.

The bill would give a 20 percent income tax credit on all production expenses made in Montana, but production companies would have to spend at least $350,000 before receiving the credit. It would also require production companies to put a Montana promotion in their film.

The proposed law took Georgia’s tax incentive as a model. Georgia also gives production companies a 20 percent tax credit, but requires filmmakers to spend at least $500,000. However, Georgia does not have a cap on how much companies can get in credit, and HB 293 puts a limit of $5 million per year.

According to the former governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, production companies spent $2.7 billion in Georgia in 2017.

Rep. Bridget Smith, D-Wolf Point, says filmmakers would receive more credit if they hire Montana residents or university students.

“This is a jobs bill, let me tell you. It’s immediate money to your small community, it’s payroll for hiring Montanans,” she said.

Smith introduced a similar bill last session, but it died in the Senate.

Tim Pierce is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Greater Montana Foundation and the Montana Newspaper Association.

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