When some Hollywood actor tells you the “rich can pay a little more”, consider this.
Hollywood is abuzz about this year’s Oscar contenders. Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln, Argo—the nominees feature some of Tinsel Town’s hottest stars.
But when you cozy up on the couch to chomp popcorn and watch your favorite actors and directors receive this year’s Oscars, two words should glow in your mind: welfare recipients.
That’s right. Even as the Hollywood glitterati ruminate about social responsibility and the need for the wealthy “one percent” to pay their “fair share,” Hollywood millionaires and moguls are bagging an estimated $1.51 billion in tax revenues annually through something called “film tax credits.”
Consider a few of this year’s Oscar nominated films. According to a new report by the Government Accountability Institute, Quentin Tarantino’s controversial spaghetti Western, Django Unchained, featuring Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio has applied to receive an estimated $8.4 million in film tax credits from the State of Louisiana. Actor-director Ben Affleck and producer George Clooney’s film, Argo, received $6.21 million in tax credits from the California Film Commission. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, featuring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, and Tommy Lee Jones, hauled in $3.5 million in tax-free film credits. Silver Linings Playbook bagged a cool $5.6 million.
Indeed, 40 states now have some form of subsidy or incentive that allow filmmakers to defray income and/or sales taxes incurred during filming. Thirteen states even offer so-called “transferrable film tax credits” that allow filmmakers to convert unused credits into cash—at taxpayer expense, of course.
So why are taxpayers giving away over a billion-and-a-half dollars a year in Hollywood welfare handouts, especially at a time when public schools and local governments are slashing budgets and going broke? Hollywood executives and state-level politicians claim that film subsidies boost job creation and state tourism.