New Mexico clears backlog of tax rebates to film industry

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico cleared its backlog of pledged tax rebates to film and video production companies by reimbursing about $30 million of in-state spending, state taxation officials announced Thursday.

The state paid out $100 million in backlogged credits in June. September payments of just under $30 million clear a backlog that accrued under a $50 million annual spending cap that was amended this year by lawmakers.

The payments fulfill a campaign promise by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is leveraging more taxpayer dollars in an effort to attract jobs and spending by the film industry to New Mexico.

New Mexico's high plains, desert and mountain vistas are backdrop for hit streaming TV shows such as "Breaking Bad" and "Longmire" and a steady stream of feature films. Recent titles include "The Goldfinch."

The first-year governor and allied lawmakers set aside more than $200 million to clear the backlog, while increasing the annual incentive cap to $110 million for most production companies.

The cap on rebates does not apply for two companies — Netflix and NBCUniversal — that have made long-term commitment to film production in New Mexico.

"Following through on our commitment to clear this debt will go a long way toward cementing a long-lasting relationship with the film industry," Taxation and Revenue Secretary Stephanie Shardin Clarke said in a statement.

The agency estimates that the film industry spent $525 million within New Mexico during the fiscal year that ended on June 30.

The state offers rebates of up to 35 percent to video productions for in-state spending and employment of New Mexico residents.

The increased film-sector incentives are underwritten by a recent windfall in state government income, linked in large part to record-breaking oil production in southeastern New Mexico.