Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hollywood showdown: Lawmakers threaten industry’s tax breaks

 — From Capitol Hill to state capitals, real-life Hollywood cliffhangers are being played out over tax breaks designed to woo the motion picture and television industry.
Lawmakers are re-evaluating the generous tax incentives they provide the film industry. Many say it’s not worth the money, especially when governments are facing tight budgets and the Hollywood is enjoying a record $35.9 billion in worldwide box office receipts _ $10.9 billion alone from the United States and Canada.
“They’re learning that the incentives don’t live up to the claims of their proponents,” said Scott Drenkard, an economist for the Tax Foundation, a longtime critic of the breaks. “The main reason they are popular is they’re a little bit sexy. They give politicians the ability to rub elbows with movie stars.”
The industry and its allies are fighting back, though, saying they bring jobs and tax revenues anytime they produce a movie or TV show in a U.S. location.
“Tax incentives are creating jobs and promoting economic activity,” said Vans Stevenson, the senior vice president for state government affairs at the Motion Picture Association of America. “You see so many success stories because there is a significant return on investment, and that is true across the country.”
Nationwide, the MPAA said, the television and film industry supported 1.9 million private-sector jobs and $43.1 billion in wages in 2011, the most recent figures available.
Thirty-nine states and Puerto Rico offer film and television production incentives. Ten states alone provide the film industry with $1.4 billion a year in tax breaks, according to a report that California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office released last month.
But some states now are saying “cut” to tax breaks.

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