Pennsylvania’s film tax credit panned, praised

    Gov. Tom Corbett is all for lights, cameras, action in Pennsylvania. But not everyone thinks expanding the state’s film tax credit is fair to other businesses.

    Opponents of the credit say it’s unfair to those that don’t receive tax breaks.

    A Tax Foundation study last year found that film tax credits don’t raise tax revenue and the jobs they create are “mostly temporary positions with limited upward mobility.”

    Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, says she’s surprised anybody would oppose what she says is one of the most successful tax-credit programs in the state.

    “There are 17 different programs— the film one just seems to be the most visible,” she said. “We’ve been successful, and the money that’s being returned is greater than on any of the other programs out there.”

    Nathan Benefield with the conservative Commonwealth Foundation contends states across the country are star-struck by the film industry.

    He says wooing it with tax breaks isn’t good policy.

    “The film industry is a small part of the overall economy and a lot of these films would be in Pennsylvania regardless of the film tax credit so it’s a carve out for a special industry that doesn’t benefit the overall economy,” he said.

    Keezer said the credit helps generate revenue as well as jobs for Pennsylvanians.

    The 25 percent film tax credit goes to production companies that spend 60 percent of their movie’s budget in Pennsylvania–on things such as local labor, catering, hotels, transportation, and building materials.

    Benefield argues the state’s economy would be better off if it lowered the overall tax burden on businesses.

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