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Movie CameraNew York recently announced ‘Amazing Spiderman 2’ will be filmed entirely within the state. A car chase scene will be shot in Rochester. While it’s cool to envision Spiderman chasing bad guys around the Inner Loop, we might wish this production stayed in Hollywood.

‘Spiderman’ will qualify for state tax credits that can shave 30 percent off production costs. If the tax credits exceed the amount in taxes owed, the movie gets a refund check. New York’s tax credit program will cost $420 million this year. Do you know who pays for these tax credits? We do.

What’s the benefit?

The Tax Foundation says we don’t get much in return. The group found taxpayers get back less than 30 cents for every dollar of spending. The jobs created are mostly temporary and given to nonresidents.

Massachusetts found its film tax credit program cost more money than it brought in and created very few jobs. A Boston Globe columnist writes:

The Massachusetts film tax credit program has been a flop, a taxpayer rip-off that enriches one of the nation’s most profitable industries while choking off funds from more pressing public needs….

Film tax credits are based on a kind of voodoo economics — a faith that the more revenue the state manages to lose to Hollywood, the better off the public will end up. “Lawmakers understand that cutting income tax rates from 6 percent to 5 percent will cost the state revenue,” economics writer Josh Barro observes, yet they imagine “that cutting the tax rate on film productions to negative 25 percent or 40 percent can pay for itself.”

Yet, New York lawmakers are about to pass a budget that ups tax incentives to 40 percent for Upstate productions. It’s long past time the state do a serious, independent cost-benefit analysis of this program. But that’s not likely, since the state won’t even break down where the tax credit money went.

Update: The state has agreed to reveal how tax credits are spent on every movie and to an economic impact study!

Links of the Day:

Costco is looking at sites in Rochester and Albany.

– Batavia firefighters get probation for acting as bookies. The cop investigating them placed bets.

21 graphs that show American health care prices are ludicrous.

8 Responses to Stay in Hollywood

  1. March 27, 2013 at 9:41 am Barry Meyer responds:

    Looking at it short term (ie Spiderman is coming to town!!!… and then leaving), it does look like there isn’t much benefit to Rochester. Yes, they’ll bring in the NYC Local workers, and the Rochester workers will handle the small jobs And yes, the production closes shop and it’s all over. But, the real benefit will come in the long run. If the tax breaks bring in more film and television productions to the Rochester area, then it becomes a viable industry that could STAY in the area. Local workers can join IATSE and other Local Unions, and any Local crew work will come from home instead of NYC or L.A.. Rochester area businesses will benefit, too, of course. They’ll need caterers, grip supplies, lighting and loads of vendor support.

    Bottom line is Hollywood is not contained anymore. “Hollywood” films are being shot all over the country. It’s become less of a location, and more of a term for big business filmmaking. Thinking in the long term could potentially bring Hollywood to the Rochester area.

    • Government and taxpayer money should not be involved; not in Rochester, not anywhere in the US. It’s NOT what government is for.

  2. March 27, 2013 at 11:23 am Benny C. responds:

    Will The Guv get a credit in the movie?

  3. March 27, 2013 at 1:54 pm lellingw responds:

    This is a mania all over the country and taking jobs away in LA. There really isn’t a thought about how these tax credits will burden a community. Sad.

  4. Until the politicos stop scheming to find ways to benefit their cronies and donors, the taxpayer will continue to be screwed. Will we ever get tired of being abused?

  5. March 28, 2013 at 7:51 am TechnologyProfessional responds:

    Whether these credits are worth it or not varies from state to state. New York would seem to be a winner, if the NYT gets it right:


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