The bill preserves a $430 million tax incentive for Hollywood to encourage filming of movies and television shows in the United States. It’s worth up to $15 million in tax breaks to producers.
The Motion Picture Association of America, the industry’s lobbying group, defended the break, saying the movie and television industry is responsible for 2.1 million jobs and $137 billion in wages. Spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said the break is needed to defend against other nations, like neighboring Canada, which offer generous tax incentives and other financial assistance to woo American filmmakers.
“The American film industry is an incredible contributor to the American economy,” Bedingfield said.
The bill continues an excise tax of $13.50 per gallon paid by consumers who buy rum from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The money is to be used by the territories to spur economic development, but taxpayer groups say liquor conglomerates actually benefit because the territorial governments can provide as much as 35 percent of the revenue to distillers to help market rum in the U.S. Alcohol conglomerate Diageo recently struck a deal with the U.S. Virgin Islands government to cover bonds to build a Captain Morgan distillery on the islands, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.
The Distilled Spirits Association of the United States declined to comment. But Rep. Donna M.C. Christensen, the non-voting delegate from the Virgin Islands, has long defended the practice, testifying before Congress that “it is not a tax credit or tax benefit for individuals or businesses.”
Instead of battling over which industries are in and which are out, lawmakers tend to extend credits pretty widely.
“It’s more of the same,” said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. “It’s one more year of kicking the can down the road.”
Kevin G. Hall of the Washington Bureau contributed.