Stars in their eyes, screws in our wallets: film tax credits

America is a country that has always been fascinated with rather than repelled by wealth, where people aspire to become rich, or at least associate themselves with the rich, rather than redistribute their wealth downward.

From page 7 of Congressional Testimony, given Tuesday July 21, 2009

And who more fascinating than movie stars? Unfortunately, Ohio voters aren’t alone is this boondoggle giveaway to the rich and fabulous, 39 other States, including ones who already have booming film industries- like California, give über rich asking for a handout.

Now, Ohio joins the crowd, with its “me-too” handout. Corporate welfare is alive and kicking- as is the redistribution of wealth in the name of “economic development.”

The film tax credit included in Ohio’s two-year state budget … Although Ohio is playing catch up — 39 other states already offer such credits — the measure makes Ohio more competitive as a movie location, said Vans Stevenson, a Columbus native and senior vice president, state legislative affairs for the Motion Picture Association of America.

“I think that it puts Ohio in the playing field,” Stevenson said.

The refundable credit is capped at $30 million over two years — $10 million the first year and $20 million in the second. It equals 35 percent of payroll expenditures for Ohio cast and crew wages and 25 percent for nonresident wage and nonwage expenditures. Up to $5 million is available per production.

via State hopes new tax credit will lure more films.

Yet, when you look at this story: “Massachusetts loses big bucks on film tax breaks” from American Public Radio’s Marketplace you start to see the flip side of this one sided tax break.

Sure, it’s nice to think your city has “gone Hollywood” for a few weeks while a film is being made, complete with disruption to local businesses (have you ever seen what happens in Chicago or NYC when a film crew is “on location”)- but overall- how is this really benefiting the tax payer? Would your money be better invested in trash pickup in State parks (Ohio just trashed the pickup to save a measly $55,000 a year!) or by making it cheaper to pay the lackeys that the big stars require while suffering in the heartland?

At some point- taxes need to stop being used as tools- and just as ways to fund necessary public services, and last I checked- making movies wasn’t even close to necessary.

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