Film incentives: A bad idea that won’t die

Film incentives are back in the news. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has pulled the plug on a $420,000 credit for Jersey Shore, a popular but controversial “reality show” that follows the lives of several raucous young adults living in New Jersey. The governor reasons that New Jersey’s taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to support a show that “perpetuate[s] misconceptions about the State and its citizens.” That’s a polite way of saying Jersey Shore makes New Jerseyites look like a bunch of self-indulgent, barely literate nitwits.

Lawmakers’ Hollywood Dreams Hurting Taxpayers: The Case Against Film Incentives

With the film industry clamoring for additional tax breaks, it is worth asking whether such targeted tax breaks actually work.

As we’ve written before, targeted tax incentives do not result in long-term economic growth. For certain industries, however, targeted tax breaks are especially ineffective. Our analysis of tax breaks for retailers found that such incentives do not create new jobs. Likewise, numerous academic studies have demonstrated that film incentives result in little benefit to taxpayers.