State House Approves 2016 Sunset Date For Alaska Film Tax Credit

The state House voted Thursday to sunset the Alaska Film Tax Credit in 2016.

The provision was part of a bill requiring state agencies to report to the Legislature on so-called “lost revenue.” That’s the millions of dollars in revenues the state doesn’t collect each year due to various fee exemptions and tax credits. The bill adds sunset dates to some of them, meaning those programs would expire if lawmakers don’t intervene before then.

Rep. Chris Tuck addresses a joint session of the Alaska Legislature during debate about confirmations of the governor's appointees, April 17, 2014. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)
Rep. Chris Tuck addresses a joint session of the Alaska Legislature during debate about confirmations of the governor’s appointees, April 17, 2014. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

A group of Democratic House members tried and failed on the House floor to protect the Film Tax Credit, saying it hasn’t had a chance to prove itself yet. Representative Chris Tuck of Anchorage says the credit doesn’t just benefit filmmakers.

“A lot of different businesses, from limousines, restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, towing companies, electric companies, plumbing and heating companies – I mean, you name it, it has a residual effect,” Tuck said. “And what we’re trying to do with this incentive program is to build a new industry in the state of Alaska.”

A move to protect the veterans’ employment tax credit also failed. The sponsor of the lost-revenue review bill is Rep. Steve Thompson. The Fairbanks Republican says the legislation creates greater scrutiny but no worthy program has to die, he says, because lawmakers will have time to extend them. Anchorage Republican Dan Saddler put it in cinematic terms.

“It does not kill tax credits but it does prevent them from being zombies and walking on the earth long after their time and utility has passed,” Saddler said.

The bill passed 38-1 and now goes to the Senate.