Lawmakers consider tax breaks for movies, seniors |

Lawmakers consider tax breaks for movies, seniors

Associated Press Writer
Cathleen Allison/Associated Press Nevada Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, works on the Senate floor Wednesday at the Legislature. Coffin is urging lawmakers to support his measure to give economic incentives to entertainment companies to film in Nevada.

As lawmakers move toward revoking “green building” tax breaks, they heard last-minute pleas Wednesday for several other tax breaks, supporting the film industry, seniors, and nonprofit medical providers.

Lobbyists for the movie industry and unions asked the powerful Senate Finance Committee to pass a bill containing sales and fuel tax breaks for companies that make films in Nevada.

Tax breaks for moviemakers have become the norm over the last decade, with 44 states adopting some kind of incentive, said Rob Rovere, a consultant for a Las Vegas stage hands’ union.

“They’re expected in the industry,” said Rovere. “You don’t go forward without them.”

Movie companies are spending much less money in Nevada, mostly because other states have aggressively competed for their business, said Tim Rubald

, director of the state Commission on Economic Development. Spending on feature films in Nevada has dropped off from $44.8 million in 2000 to just $14.3 million last year.

State tax officials estimate the tax break will take about $35,000 from state coffers each year.

Supporters say that is vastly outweighed by film companies’ contributions to Nevada’s economy, and that the breaks will create jobs and spark millions of dollars in investments. To get the tax break, film companies must hire at least 30 percent Nevada employees, in full-time positions.

“Nevada has been very, very good to Hollywood, and now with SB321, Hollywood can return the favor and be good to Nevada,” said Rovere.

A similar tax break was proposed in 2005 but was rejected by lawmakers. That bill did not include the mandate to hire locally, said Rovere.

The committee also heard testimony on SB179, a bill sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, which would expand eligibility for a property tax break for low-income seniors.

Titus’ bill would raise the amount of the maximum tax break from $500 to $1,000. The existing amount hasn’t gone up since the 1970s, said Titus.

Finally, the committee considered SB501, a proposal to give sales and fuel tax breaks to nonprofit organizations that provide ambulance or air ambulance services.