Iowa AG asked to investigate film tax credit program

By Chris Rizo | Sep 22, 2009

Chet Culver (D)

Tom Miller (D)

DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline)--Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has been asked by the governor to investigate a state tax credit program aimed at helping the motion picture industry.

Gov. Chet Culver asked Miller and Iowa Auditor David Vaudt to investigate the program, which has been suspended, amid revelations of abuse.

"This is not about harming the growing film and television industry in Iowa, but about protecting public funds and the best interest of Iowans," Culver said in a statement. "I am very troubled by reports of the lack of oversight and accounting procedures of tax credits under this program."

In a letter to officials, the governor asked Miller and others for a review of the Iowa Department of Economic Development's Film, Television and Video Promotion Program, and to provide recommendations on how the program can be improved.

Under the current program, filmmakers may get a tax credit of up to 50 percent of what they spend to make a movie in Iowa. The program has paid about $32 million for 22 projects over the past three years.

"While there have been many reported benefits resulting from IDED's implementation of this program, our office very recently learned that there have been insufficient procedures in place to assure a full and accurate accounting of expenditures made to enable persons to qualify for tax credits under the program," the governor's letter said.

Iowa Department of Economic Development Director Mike Tramontina resigned Friday, after an internal audit of the program showed abuses.

Among other things, the audit showed that tax credits had been issued for luxury vehicles that were not used in a film production, and that filmmakers had claimed payments for themselves for multiple production jobs.

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