Supreme Court: Tax Credit Film Budgets Not Confidential

by Ryan Stefani | July 31, 2012

[The following summary was written by Ryan Stefani, a law clerk in Nyemaster Goode’s summer program.]

On July 27, 2012, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that filmmakers who received tax credits from the state must disclose their final budget summaries. The Court found that the filmmakers failed to establish that the information at issue was exempt from the Iowa Open Records Act.

The filmmakers argued that their budget summaries were exempt from the Open Records Act for three reasons; the Court rejected all of them. First, the Court concluded that the summaries did not fall under the definition of “trade secrets” as it applies to the Open Records Act’s trade secret exemption. The filmmakers then advanced two alternative theories of exemption, both of which rested on a showing that disclosure of the budget summaries advanced no public interest. In rejecting these arguments, the Court reasoned that Iowa’s film tax credit program involves the allocation of millions of taxpayer dollars, and the public has an interest in knowing how this money is spent.

Justice Mansfield wrote for all Justices except Justice Zager, who took no part. The full opinion may be accessed here.




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