Corporate Welfare

The Curious Case of Lousiana Film Subsidies


Fat off taxpayer subsidies.

One of the biggest bills has come due in Louisiana, where residents are financing a hefty share of Brad Pitt's next movie: $27,117,737, which the producers will receive by cashing or selling off valuable tax credits.

Louisiana, one of the most assertive players in the subsidy game, wound up covering $27 million of the nearly $167 million budget of Pitt's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"—the state's biggest movie payout to date—when producers for Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. qualified the movie under an incentive that has since been tightened….

Until two years ago, Louisiana's program offered a 15 percent credit for virtually the entire budget of a qualified film. Mark Smith, who oversaw the program, pleaded guilty last year to taking $67,500 in bribes to inflate budgets for a company that authorities did not name.

In case you're wondering, there's no evidence that such plans, on whatever scale, actually create jobs (duh).

"There's no evidence yet that this is a particularly efficient or effective way to create jobs," said Noah Berger, executive director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

The nonprofit center reviews budget and tax policies in Massachusetts, which is spending about $60 million a year on producer credits. A recent study by the center found that the state's film credit, at 25 percent, is five times what is offered to those who build in designated economic opportunity areas and more than eight times the state's standard investment tax credit.

More here.

Do subsidies really swing that much business? Or are they a waste of tax money? reason has answers dammit.