Jackson, Miss. (WJTV) — Lights, camera, action. The Mississippi Film Industry may see changes this year as some lawmakers push to renew a tax rebate incentive.
Last year, the Senate failed to pass House Bill 711 to extend an existing 25% tax rebate to filmmakers from out of state through 2020.
House Bill 1132 could bring it back. The bill proposes reinstating the rebate on base investment costs.
The incentive would apply to Mississippi-based production companies that spend at least $50,000 and out-of-state companies would get the rebate if they spend at least $100,000.
HB 1132 would allow a 20% rebate on payroll and fringes ($3 million) for non-resident employees and a 35% rebate on payroll and fringes (up to $3 million) for employees who are residents of Mississippi.
Representative Becky Currie chairs the House Tourism committee, “I don’t know if you saw the Christmas movie that was done on the Gulf coast last year? It was wonderful. It told some great tales of Mississippi. We had the Free State of Jones movie. Anytime Matthew McConaughey wants to come to Mississippi, I want him to come.”
Currie says films made in Mississippi create jobs and have a trickle down effect.
“So when you look at the overall amount of money that it brings to the state plus we’re looking at an increase in people coming and visiting the state already,” says Currie. “They’re going to want to go see where ‘The Help’ is filmed, where ‘The Free State of Jones’ is filmed. Those bring people here to look at the state.”
With the lapse in tax incentive last year, some filmmakers saw setbacks. The 36,000 foot sound stage at Canton closed last September. It was built to film the John Grisham film ‘A Time to Kill’ and was expanded in 2011.
Recently, Musee Bath Balm Company bought the space for $1.8 million and will use it as a factory.
State lawmakers dropped the 25% incentive last March because of budget constraints. Senate Finance Committee Chair Joey Fillingane has said that for every $1.00 spent, the state got 49 cents back.
There are other rebates for filmmakers. There’s a 25% rebate on any money you spend with Mississippi vendors and 30% for salaries for Mississippians. You get an extra 5% back for anyone you hire that’s a veteran. Those rebates apply to any production that spends at least $50,000 in the state.
“It’s very difficult to see the results soon,” says Rep. Currie. “So it’s hard for a lot of people to want to put that money in but we’re talking about all of these film crews. We have a lot of people in the state of Mississippi that do a lot of things and we’re not just talking about extras, we’re talking about film crews.”
House Bill 1132 is being reviewed by the House Tourism committee. It must pass out of committee by January 30th in order to be considered in the House.