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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Are Film Subsidies Bad For Oregon?

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Wed, Feb 9, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Leveraging Tax Dollars for Crappy TV.
  • Leveraging Tax Dollars for Crappy TV.
The Oregon Center for Public Policy just released an investigation looking into tax credits for Oregon films. They say that the way we subsidize films as a state wastes public money.

You can read the whole study here, but basically, the state gives you a $100 tax credit for every $90-95 you donate to the state film fund. The state then gives those bags of money to filmmakers as an incentive for filming in the state—supporters argue that if it wasn't for bonuses like cash payments covering up to 16 percent of wages paid to production staff, works like Twilight (uh... yay?) wouln't be shot in Oregon. The public money is used to leverage private money to support an industry that creates an estimated 13,000 jobs in the state.

But the new study says the tax credits are a waste: Kicking back that $10 tax credit doesn't make any sense when Oregon could just fund films directly, siphoning general fund money to film incentives rather than getting "middlemen" to donate. The study shows that mostly only very wealthy Oregonians use the credit. The example they give is Mark and Greg Goodman (the largest property owners in downtown Portland) who each gave
about $427,000 to the film production fund in 2008, netting tax credits of over $475,000 each. "As a result, Oregon taxpayers paid each Goodman about $47,000 profit just for being the middlemen in funding the subsidy program," says the study.

All this is relevant right now because Governor Kitzhaber is planning on expanding the film subsidy money from $15 million every two years to $40 million.

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