COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Tax dollars are being used to bring the silver screen to Ohio. But is everyone getting a fair share?
The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit was recently doubled to $40 million dollars and the cap on the amount each project was removed. It’s a new system critics say is not fair to all Ohioans.
The Ohio Motion Picture tax credit was created in 2009 as a way to incentivize movie and TV products to come to the Buckeye state. Since its inception, according to the Greater Cleveland Columbus Commission, it’s brought in more than $400 million of economic impact.
The tax credit uses up to $40 million of your tax dollars to give a 30 percent refund to TV and movie productions that spend more than $300 thousand in Ohio.
“Most of the credits are going to Cleveland,” John Daugherty from the Greater Columbus Film Commission said. In July the state named the latest recipients of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax credit, the majority of which are going to the Cleveland area.“Two of the projects are eating up 75% of the whole tax credit,” Daugherty said.
This makes it more difficult for places like Columbus to attract TV productions. Daugherty said putting a cap on the amount of the tax credit each project can use would allow more films to come to Ohio and to different areas.“One film could come through Ohio and take the whole tax credit,” Daugherty said. They are asking the state the change the rules to make it more fair to competing cities.
The Development Services Agency hands out the credits through the Ohio Film office. Todd Walker with the agency said they are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.“The Ohio Film office works closely with the film industry, while our agency administers the tax credit, ultimately the legislature sets the law,” Walker said.
In other words, it’s not their decision to make.
Lawmakers at the Capitol say the cap on each project was removed recently to make Ohio more attractive to long term television productions and to have a larger impact.“The largest projects bring in the largest economic value,” said Representative Kirk Schuring, (R-Canton) who was instrumental in crafting the law, “The way we get the biggest impact is when the project is over $5 million dollars,” Schuring added. Schuring said a large TV production deal was recently made in the Cleveland area because there was no such cap.
Schuring said a large TV production deal was recently made in the Cleveland area because there was no such cap.
In Central Ohio the Columbus film industry is still getting off the ground.
“We are kind of starting from scratch,” Daugherty said. But he believes there is a future for film here, “If you are in downtown Columbus you can get urban and gritty, then if you drive 20 minutes you can have beautiful rural fields, there is a really diverse landscape in central Ohio and I think films can take advantage of that.”
Right now there are six projects that have been selected to receive Ohio’s Motion Picture tax credit, none are listed in central Ohio, but according to the Ohio Film Office, that does not necessarily mean they won’t film in the Columbus area.