Fights, camera, action! House panel clashes over film tax breaks

'They’re filming shows in North Carolina pretending that it’s Florida and were missing out.'

A lengthy bill to overhaul and dismantle much of Florida’s economic development programs passed through its last House committee, but most of the debate centered on the move in a separate bill to ax one program: a tax rebate for film and entertainment productions.

The main bill (HB 5) would rename the Department of Economic Opportunity as the Department of Commerce, move VISIT FLORIDA, a public-private tourism marketing group, into that agency and eliminate state authority for Enterprise Florida, the state’s main public-private economic development organization.

The House Appropriations Committee passed the bill on a party-line vote with Democrats opposed, but also passed two other bills to eliminate the tax rebate program for film, TV, video games, music videos, commercials and other entertainment productions (PCB APC 23-05) and to increase tax breaks for brownfield redevelopments (PCB APC 23-09).

Democrats’ main opposition to the measures was over the removal of the tax break for the film industry worth about $25 million per year, with many noting nearby states like Georgia and North Carolina have more robust film incentive programs that lure productions away from Florida.

“Every year there seems to be a bill discouraging the film industry,” said Rep. Mike Gottlieb, a Davie Democrat. “They’re filming shows in North Carolina pretending that it’s Florida and were missing out.”

Republicans, though, defended the move, saying it wouldn’t harm the state’s economy, which is booming thanks to low tax, business-friendly policies. But GOP members also sought to defend their anti-tax increase credentials despite approving a bill that increases the taxes for the film industry.

Rep. Randy Fine, a Brevard County Republican sponsoring the bill eliminating the film tax break, described the move as the “closing of a loophole” and not a tax increase.

“We’re not imposing, authorizing or raising a tax or fee. … We are eliminating a special tax loophole,” Fine said.

Under an amendment to the state constitution pushed by former Gov. Rick Scott and approved by Republican lawmakers and Florida voters in 2018, any bill that increases a tax or creates a new tax is required to be a stand-alone bill that must get two-thirds support in both chambers of the Legislature to pass. The provision was originally included in HB 5, but some members expressed concerns that would violate the constitution.

Both Fine and Rep. Bob Rommel, a Naples Republican, noted they signed a pledge not to increase taxes but disputed the idea the bill was a tax increase, even though state economists project it will have a positive recurring impact of $20.6 million on state coffers and $5.5 million on local governments.

Fine pointed to the other bill to increase the tax credits for brownfield cleanups, a program providing incentives for businesses to rehabilitate brownfield properties, by $26.1 million. He noted that taken together, the bills would have a net zero impact on state coffers.

The bills don’t have companion measures in the Senate, but could be part of budget negotiations between the chambers in the final two weeks of the Regular Session, which is set to end May 5.

Gray Rohrer


  • Dont Say FLA

    April 21, 2023 at 2:12 pm

    It’s not like this tax loophole is being taken advantage of by anyone. How many Hollywood types want to be anywhere near Rhonda’s Panties and his Don’t Say Gay platform that allegedly keeps children safe from gays but not from any real dangers such as the bullets that constantly be flying.

  • Paul

    April 24, 2023 at 9:50 am

    It only applies to a fraction of expenditures that a production company makes, and most companies using it — about 1,000 — have 5 or less employees. This is not a ‘loophole’, it’s a program that works to boost our state’s economy, and most companies utilizing it are Florida-based. The products of this industry — films, documentaries, TV shows, commercials, etc — are proven drivers of tourism, too, an added bonus.

  • Crazy State

    April 26, 2023 at 7:43 am

    Florida is run by crazies and criminals. Why do y’all elect such wackos down there? Water on the brain?

Comments are closed.


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