The Uncertain Future of Colorado’s Film Incentive

Under Colorado’s current program, the state offers a lucrative 20% tax rebate credit for qualifying projects that include TV shows, feature films, commercials, music videos, or any other form of recorded audio/visual production. In order to qualify, film companies have a minimum spend of $250,000 on a TV commercial or video game production, $1,000,000 if they are an out-of-state production company, or $100,000 if they are a Colorado-based production company. The state also offers a unique loan program under which Colorado will finance up to 20% of the production for qualifying projects.

Unfortunately, that is not quite enough to lure the film companies here. When faced with a choice to pick a filming location with a Mid-Western scenery, production companies often lean in favor of neighboring New Mexico or Utah. This has nothing to do with Colorado’s lack of scenic landscape –both New Mexico and Utah offer up to 25% tax credit to qualifying projects filmed on their territory compared to 20% currently offered by Colorado.

And it looks like it is going to get worse soon – many Colorado lawmakers are looking to cut $3,000,000 that is currently allocated to film tax incentives out of the budget. Their main argument is that the film industry does not provide adequate return in terms of job creation and revenue. On the contrary, their opponents point out that film production in the state means more revenue for hotels, catering companies and other local vendors, employment for blue-collar workers and an increase in sales tax revenue for the state. In addition, shooting films in Colorado can also provide positive advertising of its towns and landmarks which in turn will attract more tourists. Sadly, not many lawmakers see it that way which could mean the end of the state’s film tax incentive program in the near future.