CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- A bill before the Nevada Senate proposes generous tax incentives to persuade the film industry to set up shop in the Silver State, which has seen film revenue tumble in recent years.
Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, presented SB165 with a team of supporters to the Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development. SB165 aims to bring jobs and revenue to Nevada's beleaguered economy by way of attracting the film industry to the Silver State with transferrable tax credits.
"It's about diversifying our economy with a new industry, and we have the opportunity to do that here," Ford told committee members Thursday.
The bill would grant credits of at least 23 percent of the films' production cost spent in Nevada to qualifying endeavors that shoot at least 60 percent of their production in Nevada and spend at least $100,000 in direct production costs in the state. Marketing and other indirect costs don't count.
The company could then sell that credit to a broker or apply it toward taxes on future productions in Nevada. The bill authorizes up to $50 million in tax credits to the film industry per fiscal year. News, weather, sporting events and other live shows do not qualify for the tax credits.
Forty other states have tax incentives for the film industry, Ford said.
"Unfortunately, although hundreds of productions shoot here annually, their visits are brief," Ford told committee members. "To attract productions to our state we need to compete on a level playing field."
Chris Ramirez, the founder of a production company in Las Vegas, regularly interacts with producers considering shooting a film or part of a film in Nevada. Although most producers like the opportunity Nevada presents, often the cost drives them away, Ramirez told committee members.
"All the hard work and everything we have to offer are not in consideration. It is all about where are the tax incentives," he said. He added that revenue from the film industry will continue to decline if tax incentives are not installed.
Others see the allure of grandiose promises as idealistic but not exactly accurate.
"Film tax credits fail to live up to their promises to encourage economic growth overall and to raise tax revenue," Geoffrey Lawrence of the Nevada Policy Research Institute told the committee.
For Bryan Wachter, with the Retail Association of Nevada, tax credits just aren't fair or fiscally responsible.
"The policy of giving an industry tax credits over others is inherently unfair and unbalanced," Wachter said in committee. "We send the message we value potential new business over the ones in our community."
The bill is expected to foster the growth of at least one Las Vegas business, according to its owner.
"My business will increase threefold," said Jim "JR" Reid, president of JR Lighting in Las Vegas.
"I will hire more people, I will pay more taxes and my employees will pay more taxes," he told the committee. "What we're doing is shifting the tax burden, essentially."