Arizona Tax Incentive for Film Productions

TEMPE, AZ — “Lights, camera, action…”

There’s a lot more than that going on at Sun Studios of Arizona in Tempe, a full-service production facility that films, edits and distributes everything from feature films, commercials and even audiobooks.

“It’s literally a one-stop-shop,” says Darrin Ramage, owner of Sun Studios.

The facility rivals any studio you would see in Hollywood; they can produce music albums, they can record music videos, they can create soundtracks – now they just need the business.

Ramage says business is literally flying over Arizona’s head right now and heading to other states like New Mexico, Louisiana and Georgia, all because of their incentive programs. taxes for studios and film companies.

Arizona’s previous package went dark over a decade ago, but now some state lawmakers are trying to change that.

Under Senate Bill 1708, the state would award up to $150 million in tax credits each year to production companies that are willing to ditch Hollywood, or any other location, and film here in Arizona. .

To qualify for the tax credit, companies would need to film at a qualified studio in Arizona. If a film was shot on location, pre-production, post-production and editing would have to take place in Arizona. There would also be additional incentives for companies that hire and use Arizona-based workers and crew.

Proponents like Ramage say it would help create more cinematic infrastructure like studios to produce even more content. It would also boost other businesses like hotels and restaurants and, in turn, create more jobs.

Some people claim that The Bill would turn into a box office flop.

Opponents fear it’s like writing a check to Hollywood – and there are fears the state could lose money on the deal, especially in the early years, according to an economic analysis.

Others argue that it’s not fair to single out the film industry while other companies are still struggling to recover from the pandemic.

“Think of the thousands of small businesses that have closed during COVID who would like to offset the tax debts they have. While we are busy developing targeted programs to attract this industry, many of these small businesses will not return. ever,” said Aimee Yentes, vice president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club at a Senate appropriations committee in February where the bill was being discussed.

Ramage tells ABC15 that this bill is what is needed to help Arizona studios stay alive.

ABC15: Have you had times over the past six years of owning your studios where it’s been hard to make ends meet?

Ramage: It was almost impossible.

Ramage went on to say that this tax incentive program is what is needed to attract larger, longer-term projects.

“We can do little commercials and music videos, but we don’t get the big deals or the long-term deals… A feature comes and they stay for a month or six weeks. We don’t get those The deals we get now last maybe one, two or three days.”

SB 1708 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and has since moved to the House where it currently sits on the committee. If he passes, he will head to Governor Doug Ducey’s office for a signing.

To read the full invoice, go to https://apps.azleg.gov/BillStatus/BillOverview/77703?=Session525

Marjorie N. McClure