Wednesday, June 03, 2009

States Give Hollywood A Fortune In Tax Breaks

Earlier today, I came across this interesting Associate Press article discusses how some States – who are hiking taxes elsewhere – are offering huge tax incentives to the entertainment industry, primarily for movie and television. This has gotten taxpayers concerned, as they are wondering if they are going to benefit from the Hollywood tax incentives.

An Associated Press survey found that states competing for projects handed out $1.8 billion in tax breaks and other advantages to the entertainment industry from 2006 through 2008.

Several states have even sweetened their incentives recently or are considering doing so, for fear that if they don't land the next major motion picture, someone else will.

"The industry has been able to play off North Carolina against South Carolina against Louisiana against Georgia. Louisiana raises its incentives, and it puts pressure on South Carolina, North Carolina and other states to do likewise," said Bob Orr, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice who heads an anti-incentives group called the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law.

Some states argue that the tax breaks pay for themselves in revenue. Many others contend that even if tax revenue takes a hit, the film industry boosts their economies with an infusion of cash and jobs.

Production companies spend money on sets, props, caterers, and salaries for actors, extras and crew members. Movie crews eat at restaurants and stay in hotels while in town.

Movie shoots can also give a place a little Hollywood glamour, which can, in turn, boost tourism — something that has happened in Durham, N.C., where the 1988 Kevin Costner comedy "Bull Durham" was shot, and in Savannah, Ga., the setting of the 1997 film "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

"I relate this to creating jobs similar to the way you would turn on a light," said Republican state Rep. Stephen L. Precourt of Florida, who is pressing to increase the state's incentives. "Within days, people could be working here under this incentive program."

Continued on Google News.

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