New Yorkers Funded Third of 'Wolf of Wall Street's' $100M Budget

Friday, 28 Feb 2014 02:45 PM

By Courtney Coren

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"The Wolf of Wall Street" has been nominated for Best Picture, but it has already won one award – for Best Tax Break.

New York gives a 30 percent tax credit to film companies for movies filmed in the Empire State, which means that New Yorkers helped fund a third of "The Wolf of Wall Street's" $100 million budget, according to a study from the Manhattan Institute.

All nine Best Picture nominees benefited from tax breaks offered to film companies across the country, which states created as an incentive for movie companies to do businesses there.

The best incentives are in Louisiana, where filmmakers are given a 30 percent credit on production costs and a 5 percent payroll credit. While "12 Years a Slave" and "Dallas Buyers Club" were both filmed in the Bayou State, they had much smaller budgets and didn't have the savings of "Wolf."

While the argument for such tax breaks by their supporters is that they will help create jobs and increase tax revenue, this has not turned out to be the case.

"Data from several states find movie production incentives generate less than 30 cents for every lost dollar in tax revenue," the Manhattan Institute found.

The conservative think tank notes that this is a common problem with targeted tax breaks — they "routinely fail to deliver on the economic promises made by their proponents."

It is also an example of government choosing winners and losers, the group says, and any industry would be attracted to a state if it promised to pay for a third of its costs. And if states did offer such incentives to other industries, it wouldn't be sustainable.

But film is an especially bad industry to subsidize as the jobs it creates are temporary, and the workers are very specialized.

Connecticut, one of 37 states with tax incentives for the film industry, suspended its program in 2013 for two years after it became clear that it was hurting the state to spend the $140 million to attract filmmakers more than it was helping.


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