Millions of dollars in tax credits awarded in Massachusetts to cover the state’s film tax credit program have been used to help pay the salaries of movie stars from out of state.
A review by the Associated Press of a recent report by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue on the program found that $82 million of the $330 million in spending on movie and TV production eligible for the tax credits was applied toward the salaries of actors who earn over $1 million. More than $42 million went for salaries and wages of local workers, however, according to the report.
Movie and TV production companies are able to apply in Massachusetts for tax credits for 25 percent of a film’s production and payroll costs and sales tax exemptions. In 2009, approximately $82.4 million in film tax credits were generated by 86 individual productions, according to the report.
Commercial and advertising productions accounted for 48 of those productions, but 13 feature films accounted for almost 93 percent of the total value of tax credits claimed. Among the movies filmed in Massachusetts in 2009, according to the Hollywood Reporter, were critically acclaimed films such as “The Fighter,” starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams; “The Social Network,” starring Jesse Eisenberg; and “The Town,” starring Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall and Jon Hamm. The movie stars do not directly receive the tax credits, the AP pointed out, but their salaries and other expenses are used by the movie companies to claim the tax credits.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick proposed capping the film tax credit program last year at $50 billion because of the state’s budget problems, but the movie industry and labor unions fought back and defeated the proposal. Forty-four other states and the District of Columbia also have film tax credit programs, according to the AP.
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