Tax Incentives or Tax Scams?

The TV and movie industries have, for the most part, been
a good source of income here in Hawai’i. Not only are they
mostly environmentally friendly, but in addition to the well
paid union jobs they create, you get free advertising
probably worth millions.

From Hawaii Five-O, Magnum PI,
Lost, to various TV
shows
, movies
(e.g., Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost
Ark
) and commercials, Hollywood has been, on balance,
mostly good for Hawai’i.

But in some cases, and not necessarily the ones listed
above, there are behind the scenes efforts to get “special
consideration” or incentives from government and businesses.
By that I mean tax credits, free/reduced sound stage rents,
free/reduced housing, free/reduced air fare, etc. The
unstated threat is that if you don’t give the producers such
consideration, they will either leave and go somewhere else
where someone will accommodate their demands, or not
come in the first place.

Unfortunately, sometimes it works. Places like Canada and
Australia provide huge tax credits, worth millions of
dollars, to come and film in their locations. Hollywood has
responded by filming in these countries specifically because
of these inducements.

But the question is always, do you get more benefits from
these films than the cost of these considerations?
Oftentimes, this is a difficult question to answer because of
the problem of measuring the benefits. Figuring out how much
direct taxes are paid by the companies is usually doable. The
problem is in figuring out how much taxes are generated by
people viewing the movies/TV series and deciding, on
that alone
, to come to Hawaii and spend some
money.

That question aside, local and state governments, all over
the country, have joined the tax giveaway sweepstakes. This
is not only for movies. I’m talking about tax
adjustments/credits for just about every business there
is.

But
this article
says many, if not most of these efforts end
up being huge scams where taxpayers end up holding an empty
bag.

Although I’m not saying there shouldn’t be incentives for
business, I am saying you to have to carefully consider the
costs versus the benefits by following up and evaluating the
programs. Otherwise, all you are doing is stealing from the
poor and giving to the rich.

Have a Great Weekend, Everyone –
Aloha!

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