Film tax credits attract productions to Hawaii

Film tax credits attract productions to Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The filming is almost finished for a new movie being shot entirely Hawaii. The state's film tax credits are bringing in big productions like "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates," but not everyone is a fan of the incentives.

Crew members have spent the last two months filming at different spots on Oahu. They shot a scene in Hawaii News Now's Studio B on Monday. The comedy follows two brothers searching for dates for a destination wedding in the islands. The executive producer said the state's film tax credits helped with the decision to shoot in Hawaii.

"It made a lot of sense for the movie. it made a lot of sense for the storytelling, and we found some great locations that ultimately led us to the decision," said executive producer David Ready.

In 2013, the state boosted film tax credits to 20% on Oahu and 25% on the neighbor islands. The cap also increased to $15 million per production.

"We have an excellent tax credit in play," said state film commissioner Donne Dawson. "We've seen additional business as a result of that, and we're going to see even more business coming in for the balance of this year and into next year."

"I think we've gotten into a race now with other states and with other cities. They keep upping the ante and the question keeps coming to the legislature, 'Well, then we have to raise our amounts,'" said State Senator Sam Slom (R-Hawaii Kai, Diamond Head).

The tax credits are a waste of money, according to critics.

"The closest thing to a trend in state business tax policy right now is states looking skeptically at the film tax credits that they've already enacted and saying, 'You know what? It's not worth the money. It's not effective,'" said Matt Gardner, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in Washington, D.C.

32 productions received an estimated total of $33.7 million in rebates last year, according to the Hawaii Film Office. The projects generated $19.2 million in taxes, and about $279 million in additional revenues into the state's economy.

"Those are dollars pumping through our economy. That impacts probably every sector of our economy," said Dawson.

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