Danica, Daytona and politics
Be a good tax client

Most Oscar nominees for best movie made with help from state film tax credits

Nine movies are nominated for Best Picture at tonight's Oscars ceremony.

5 Oscar best movies 2012 got state tax creditsFive of those productions took advantage of state film tax credits, according to research done by Stateline. Since it's Academy Awards Sunday, that number is this week's By the Numbers honoree.

In fact, reports the magazine, four of the nine movies that were made outside the United States got incentives from overseas governments to entice them to film in those countries.

The only movie that didn't get any government financial aid, says Stateline, was "The Artist."

If, as expected, that black-and-white mostly silent flick takes home the statuette for best picture, it will delight critics of film and television tax breaks.

The table below breaks out the U.S. state movie tax credit or other government assistance given to the nine Best Picture Oscar nominees per Stateline:

The Artist Did not receive film incentives.

The Descendants
Received incentives from Hawaii, which does not disclose amounts for individual films.
Extremely Loud &
Incredibly Close
Received incentives from New York, which does not disclose amounts for individual films.
The Help Received a spending rebate of $3,547,780 from Mississippi.
Hugo Received tax credits to film overseas.
Midnight in Paris Received tax credits to film overseas.

Eligible to receive as much as $5.8 million in tax credits from California, pending certification.
The Tree of Life Received $434,253 in incentives from Texas.
War Horse Received tax credits to film overseas.

Credits, yes; Amounts, no: Learning that movies got taxpayer help was easy. Finding out exactly how much money each film received from states or countries, however, is a different issue.

"Generally, states will reveal aggregate figures showing how much in the way of incentives they gave the whole industry in a given year," according to Stateline's Feb. 22 story. "And it is not hard to find out if a particular production got some help from a certain state. What is more shrouded in secrecy is the dollar amount for individual productions. According to Good Jobs First, a watchdog that maintains a database of state economic development subsidies, only one-third of the states that offer film incentives reveal how much they give to individual productions."

I'm a movie buff and I support incentives for television programs and movies. But states that dispense the public money, and there are around 40 of them, owe the taxpayers who are footing the bill an accurate and open accounting of the credits.

The fight for Oscar glory ends tonight, at least for 10 or so months. But the battle over tax credits for television and movies will continue, especially as states struggle with how to attract job-creating industries but also lower treasury outlays.

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