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Let them eat canapes

August 24, 2009

20090824-1.jpgSo what if the state faces a billion-dollar budget shortfall. Never mind that the state still hasn't finished paying for the 2008 floods, or that schools are having to choose between math and music. Des Moines Register Columnist Rekha Basu has more urgent uses for your tax money: swell parties.

Ms. Basu realizes that Iowa's $77 million subsidy for filmmakers has critics:

But the tax credit has its detractors on the Iowa Legislature and among some who work with vulnerable populations. They fear it drains revenues from services.

But they'd feel differently if they were cool enough to make the A-list:

But some benefits can't just be measured on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The movies provide employment to local actors, construction crews, artists, caterers, drivers and a host of others. They expose non-Iowans to what the state has to offer. More intangible is the benefit of interactions in a state that can be cut off from the trends and centers of power. Not to mention the excitement factor. We've relied on caucuses every four years to bring action and celebrities to town. Now, sightings are anytime, any place.

Saturday, "The Experiment" had a wrap party downtown. Brody and Whitaker were there, mingling and posing for pictures. Frank Meeink was there. The Iowan who may have inspired the 1998 "American History X" has an acting role. Deb Cosgrove, the nurse, was there. She's been tending to the medical needs of the film's luminaries. Casey Gradischnig, local multi-media designer, was there. He's been working for Whitaker.

And if you don't get invited to A-list parties, maybe you can get a temporary job as a driver when your employer flees to South Dakota to get away from the nation's 7th-worst business tax environment.

Ms. Basu throws in a clincher argument:

One way to look at this: It's creating a niche for Iowa, just as companies do when they move call services to India. And for once, we're not on the losing end of the outsourcing.

Of course India doesn't have to pay half the salaries of call-center workers with tax money. But then India doesn't get the sweet movie-star parties.

Flickr image courtesy Geoff604's photostream.

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Comments

I cannot believe she really said this: "We've relied on caucuses every four years to bring action and celebrities to town. Now, sightings are anytime, any place."

Does she really believe Iowans are so obsessed with celebrities as to sacrifice things like education and disaster relief?

Does she think you're all a bunch of 12 year old girls at a Hannah Montana concert?

(No offense meant if you're a Hannah Montana fan.)

Monica, it sure seems that way. But what's $77 million for a chance to see Sean Penn, anyway?

I'm getting ready to file for tax credits for the movie I made, Ghost Player: Relive the Magic. All this news lately makes me nervous. I have a legit program that has tried to do everything by the book.
From my understanding there are three types of tax assistance available under the Iowa Film, Television, and Video Project Promotion Program (“Film Program”) statute. There are two sections in the statute that provide a twenty-five percent (25%) credit for two different sets of expenditures. There is also a section in the statute that provides a reduction in adjusted gross income for taxpayers who receive certain payments related to film projects.
I don't want to screw anything up. Know any good accountants and lawyers in Iowa?

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