Film Tax Credits: Worth The Money?
Massachusetts Says No
By Bruce A Johnson | July 08, 2009
As a state employee (my day job is with Wisconsin Public Television) I pay fairly close attention to the biennial Wisconsin state budget. Aside from the parts that directly affect me (I'm getting 16 unpaid furlough days in the next 2 years, as are all state employees), there are usually other items of interest. Two years ago Wisconsin installed, with great fanfare, a fairly generous tax rebate as an incentive to lure filmmakers to the Badger State. The program had one large taker, the Johnny Depp film "Public Enemies," directed by UW-Madison grad Michael Mann. There is a great synopsis of the debate in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but basically it seems that NBC Universal ("Public Enemies" production company) got back pretty close to every buck they spent in Wisconsin (depending on who you ask.) In the new state budget, Governor Jim Doyle scaled the program back to a maximum expenditure of $500,000 per year. Of course, he was facing a $6 billion budget deficit, so just about everything was fair game (see "furlough days" above.)
Now we find news of yet another state that has found the benefits of a film tax credit to be illusory at best. This article from Deadline Daily spells out the Bay State's situation pretty clearly. FTA:
Massachusetts lost $95.5 million last year, and is on the hook for another $250 million over the next two years, because of film tax breaks. The Bay State also has to make good on up to $130 million in tax credits in the coming fiscal year, and $117 million in the next, at a time when the state is facing a revenue free fall.
Wow. Makes the Wisconsin situation look tame by comparison.
So what do you think? Should states be in the business of bribing production companies to come to town for jobs that, if not imported from California, tend to be short-term?
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artadams - Wed, May 22 2013 - 8:34 pm
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