GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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March 25, 2013

Report adds fuel for film tax credits

BOSTON — The state’s film tax credit program cost taxpayers $44.1 million in 2011, creating 497 new jobs for Massachusetts residents and sparking $38.7 million in net economic impact, according to a new report from the Department of Revenue.

The study of the tax credit’s impact offers a fresh look at the program as lawmakers mull its future.

Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed a budget for fiscal 2014 starting in July that would cap the film tax credit program at $40 million a year, a move that Patrick said earlier this year was in part due to concerns that the money was being used to fund the excessive salaries of film stars.

Efforts to limit the tax credit program in the past, however, have met resistance from lawmakers who cheer its success in luring high-profile film and TV productions to the Bay State.

The study found that $44 million in tax credits were claimed in 2011 by 77 individual productions, up from $18 million in 2010 but still off the peak of $120.4 million in 2008. A total of $326.5 million in tax credits have been claimed by film productions since the program started in 2006 giving projects a 25 percent break on production costs if they filmed in Massachusetts.

“The production incentive is not only creating jobs, it’s creating an industry,” said Don Packer, president of the Massachusetts Production Coalition and co-owner of Engine Room Edit, a post-production facility in Boston that employs 18 people, three times as many as before the program started. “Dozens of local entrepreneurs are building small businesses that are part of the state’s growing creative economy.”

Rep. Steven Howitt, a Seekonk Republican and member of the Screen Actors Guild, said he thinks the DOR report failed to capture the full picture of spending that takes place in restaurants, hotels and other business when a production sets up.

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