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On location: California film tax credit program has generated $2.2 billion in spending, state says

California's film tax breaks haven't put the brakes on runaway production, but they've slowed the race to out-of-state filming locations.

That was the message California Film Commission Executive Director Amy Lemisch and others delivered Friday at an Assembly hearing held to evaluate the effectiveness of the state's film tax credit program, which took effect in July 2009.

The program, which offers a 20% to 25% tax credit on film and TV productions, has so far allocated $300 million in tax credits to 113 film and TV projects, generating 41,000 jobs and $2.2 billion in spending, including $728 million paid in wages to below-the-line film crews, according to the California Film Commission, which administers the tax credit program.

Lemisch was joined by various union leaders, business owners and film producers who praised the film incentive, which is funded through fiscal 2014. Supporters have been eager to demonstrate that the program is working, even though there doesn't appear to be a move afoot by California politicians to scrap it.

"This expenditure of limited tax dollars has brought back billions to the California economy and the public needs to know it," said Assembly member Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada-Flintridge), who held the hearing at Pasadena City Hall and has co-authored a bill to extend the film tax credits.

More on this in Tuesday's On Location feature.

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Marisa Tomei, left, and Matthew McConaughey are shown in a scene from "The Lincoln Lawyer." Credit: (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Saeed Adyani)

Comments () | Archives (4)

so what? the general population underwrites the cost of the tax credit yet only a select industry benefits FROM it! Scrap it - along with all the CRA's.

And all that money went to prop up the labor unions.

@CGF. You obviously have no love for labor unions but don't let that cloud your knowledge of the facts. The main beneficiaries of the tax incentives are studios/producers. IATSE, the entertainment union, has little to no sway over producer/studio decisions on where to shoot movies.

@Richard Verrier. Sir, this reads like nothing more than a press release. Is anyone at the LA Times going to fact check, verify, analyze the claims made by the film commission?

It's a financial miracle and it's amazing nobody has stumbled on it till now. The taxpayers transfer their own funds to the largest and most profitable corporations they can find and and billions of dollars in free money are transferred into our economy. We're really stupid if we don't adopt a state plan to divert perhaps a quarter of our tax revenues each year and turn that amount over to corporations which will in turn shower billions on our state. Why have taxes at all if we can make billions by spending millions? We'd be certain to have a vast budget surplus at the end of 4 years at which point we could start a negative taxation system in which instead of the citizens paying taxes to the government, the government would pay taxes to us. At some point I would expect by subsidizing more sectors of the economy, our collective income would be so high, a growing segment of our population could simply quit their jobs and enjoy the rest of their lives living large on free money. We could even afford to hire back laid off police and teachers and restore funding for child health care for those who can't afford it. In fact maybe we should start thinking about impeaching Jerry Brown who knows little or nothing about finance and replace him with the economist and financial expert Amy Lemisch who has finally realized the dream of the ages -- to turn lead into gold.


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