Thursday, June 4, 2009

Study Brings Up Film Tax Credit Debate

The state’s current system of giving tax credits to filmmakers was backed up by a study given to the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. The study results showed that the taxes generated by these films (almost $63 million this year) do not reach the total spent in tax credits each year ($75 million). However, the other benefits of the filming, including jobs created and money spent on goods and services far outweigh the state’s output. As much as $524 million in wages and spending were made by the state this year, the study says.

However, the program and the study are not without critics. State Senator Patricia Vance (R – Cumberland) says though this income is certainly a good thing for the state, the fact remains that the money coming directly back to the state government still falls short of its expenses. With a $3.2 billion budget deficit threatening education programs and even tax levels, Vance says programs like this are unacceptable. “I’m very confident the people I’m hearing from don’t want their taxes raised to preserve a subsidy for the film industry. I’m not saying in good times it may not be a good thing. I’m saying that when we’re talking about closing libraries and cutting off mental health services, we have to have good priorities about where we’re going to put the money,” says Vance.

The mid-state senator says the study itself wasn’t actually conducted by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee; rather, she says it was carried out by a private company based in Los Angeles, California. Vance says this erases the known credibility associated with the state committee. She adds that most of the money coming in to the state from the filmmakers’ spending is going only to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where the majority of the movies are filmed. However, the money for the tax credits comes evenly from across the state.

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