BC: Taxpayers Gouged By Film Subsidies
My friend over at VFX Soldier has a killer post this week on B.C. visual effects film subsidies, that calculates that taxpayers pay 60 per cent of a B.C. film worker's salary while they toil away for massive companies like Disney, Paramount, Pixar, Dreamworks, etc. It's obscene! From his post:
Look, many VFX workers in BC are making around of $100,000. The idea that the BC taxpayer is paying almost $60,000 of that salary to US producers while there arebudget problems and cuts in education and healthcare in BC reeks of improper priorities.
Last year, I wrote a piece for Business in Vancouver, explaining why film subsidies are bad for taxpayers. It bears reposting here:
As Bill Clinton once said, “It’s arithmetic.” And the arithmetic of taxpayers subsidizing the film industry is failing.
B.C. taxpayers lose money on film. In 2012, we spent $437 million on film subsidies, six times as much as in 2005. But virtually the same amount of production happened in B.C. – $1.2 billion. Even with every conceivable tax spinoff counted, B.C.’s treasury likely lost $220 million or more – money that should have gone to education, health care or tax cuts.
B.C. isn’t alone in being hoodwinked by Hollywood. Ontario subsidized its $1.3 billion industry with $290 million – it is unlikely they made back enough tax revenue to cover that cost. Louisiana’s chief economist reports that a dollar in film tax credits returned only 15 cents to his state’s treasury – a loss of 85 cents. Michigan taxpayers got 11 cents back for every dollar – a loss of 89 cents.
The math is scary: B.C.’s $437 million subsidy last year is one-third as much as the $1.3 billion the 37 states who offer credits put in – combined. Yes, combined.
Saskatchewan, Washington, Arizona, New Jersey and Maine are among several jurisdictions cutting film subsidies. B.C. should join that trend.
B.C.’s film workers are real people, with real families, worried about making real paycheques. They have become victims of real bad arithmetic – but it shouldn’t be up to taxpayers to save B.C. film.