Luring Hollywood: Debating Film Tax Credits

A look at the practice of using tax credits to lure film industries to locate their productions in Maryland.

Federal Hillywood?

Remember when we found out that the movie of the musical version of the film Hairspray wouldn’t be filled in Baltimore, but rather in Toronto, Canada? Many people were outraged. And the film Annapolis–that was shot in Philadelphia.

Some industry experts, like Jack Gerbes of the Maryland Film Office, argue that there is a substantial return on the
investment in the industry with incentives. Proponents of incentives say we could be more aggressive in the tax credits we offer to film productions, including rebates and sales tax exemptions. They point to the hundreds of millions of dollars these productions spend with local vendors and employing Maryland residents as the benefits of having them here.

But other people, like Sheldon Laskin, an adjunct professor of state and local tax in the Graduate Tax Program at the University of Baltimore Law School, believe that film tax credits are not the best policy. He says that it is a mistake to invest in a production that will be here for only a finite amount of time and will not offer long-term economic benefit.

Jack Gerbes and Sheldon Laskin sat down with Marc Steiner to argue view on this issue. Please note the correction appended to the end of the podcast.

Further reading: