New York: Biggest Spender on Film Tax Breaks

Posted on Monday, August 22, 2016

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According to a pair of recently released studies, New York far outpaced every other state in the country, spending $2.6 billion on tax breaks for the film industry from 1997-2015. No state has spent close to what New York has. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly touted the tax credit as an effective tool to drive film-industry spending and jobs to the Empire State.
States began offering film tax incentives in the late 1990s to try and entice the industry away from traditional home bases in California and New York, studies found. The incentives rapidly expanded to other states hoping to compete in the early 2000s, including 2004 in New York. As unemployment went up, states were more likely to enact film tax breaks. As unemployment went back down, states were more likely to repeal them. The highest-spending states, however, have largely not moved to repeal them. 
University of Southern California researcher's studies question the job creation impacts of the lucrative tax breaks, which are offered by states to major movie-makers to entice them to film within a particular state's borders. From 1997-2015, more than a quarter of the $10 billion spent nationally on film tax credits was in New York. Louisiana lagged far behind with $1.5 billion, taking the country's second-place spot. No other state topped $1 billion, according to studies 
The credit now covers up to 30 percent of qualified production costs for movies or television shows that film or perform post-production work in the state. The state can spend a maximum of $420 million a year on the credit.
"Spider-Man 2" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2" are two major motion pictures that were lured by tax breaks to film scenes in Rochester and Buffalo, respectively. The majority, though, are shot in New York City. It can be quite lucrative: Netflix's "Orange is the New Black," which largely films in Rockland County, received $10 million for a single season. CBS' "The Good Wife" got $15.5 million.

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