The Oscar for Best Corporate Welfare Boondoggle Goes to the New York State Film Tax Credit Program

By Kieran Lalor, on Feb 26, 2016

East Fishkill, NY - (2/26/16) - With the Academy Awards set for this Sunday, New York State Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I – East Fishkill) is suggesting that the Oscar for Best Corporate Welfare Boondoggle goes to the New York State Film Tax Credit Program. 

"Despite stiff competition from Start-Up NY, $47 million for an outlet mall in Staten Island and the $750 million solar panel plant New York taxpayers are building for multi-billionaire Elon Musk's fledgling Solar City, the New York State Film Tax Credit Program wins the award for Best Corporate Welfare Boondoggle. With $420 million wasted annually, Cuomo's own tax commission panning it, a proven pay-to-play element and a per job cost of $38,000 to taxpayers for jobs that tend to be ultra-temporary, the New York State Film Tax Credit Program runs away with the award," said Lalor.

Lalor added, "The $420 million per year lifted off of Hollywood is put on to less glamorous industries and small businesses. It is a tax shift, not true tax relief. Even Governor Cuomo's own tax commission said the credit is too big and recommended scaling it back. Now, the film industry wants to increase and expand the tax credit in the Hudson Valley. The industry claims it wants to level the playing field for the Hudson Valley by increasing the tax credits available locally to match those available upstate.  But why not lower the additional credits available further upstate if leveling the playing field is the goal. Adding new credits is just throwing good money after bad when Cuomo's own commission says the credits don't work."

Lalor continued, "The film credit has not prevented layoffs. For example, Viacom announced in March 2015 that it was cutting 264 employees in New York. Viacom received about $340,000 in tax credits for TV production in the fourth quarter of 2014 alone. But, with the limited information about the credits available, it's likely that the actual number runs well into the millions when Viacom subsidiary Paramount Pictures is included. The jobs created tend to be temporary jobs for caterers, acting extras and set builders but few of the kind of permanent full time jobs that can sustain a middle class family in New York. Still the average 'job' created costs the taxpayers a whopping $38,000 according to a study by Camoin Associates. Other states are cutting or eliminating their own film tax credits, but Albany stubbornly keeps wasting tax dollars."

"We even know that the Hollywood tax credits have a proven pay-to-play aspect from emails leaked in the Sony hack," said Lalor. "These tax credits don't produce anything and they're the corrupt result of pay-to-play politics. The Oscar for Best Corporate Welfare Boondoggle is well deserved. This corporate giveaway to the powerful in Hollywood should be turned into across the board tax relief for all New York taxpayers instead."

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