19 March 2009

Hollywood Tax-Cutters

This isn't your usual cast of Hollywood conservatives, though I'm sure they'd agree with the urge to cut taxes. No, this is plain old Hollywood liberals who know that the key to making money and turning a profit is keeping costs low--and that includes taxes.

The Wall Street Journal has the op-ed:
We're constantly told that taxes don't matter to business and investors, but listen to that noted supply-side economist, Alec Baldwin. The actor recently rebuked New York Governor David Paterson for threatening to try to help close the state's $7 billion budget deficit by canceling a 35% tax credit for films shot in the Big Apple.

"I'm telling you right now," Mr. Baldwin declared, "if these tax breaks are not reinstated into the budget, film production in this town is going to collapse, and television is going to collapse and it's all going to go to California." Well, well. Apparently taxes do matter, at least when it comes to filming "30 Rock" in Manhattan.

Believe it or not, Mr. Baldwin's views are shared across the movie industry, which is pleading in state capitals across the country for most-favored-tax status. Hollywood productions are highly mobile and can film just about anywhere. So they have taken to shopping around the country -- and the world -- for the most lucrative tax avoidance deal.

I love 30 Rock and am a fan of Baldwin's character in it. However, I despise most of Baldwin's politics--apart from this strange urge of his to cut taxes during an economic downturn. How very enlightened and progressive of him.

When I talk about government picking the winners and losers, yeah, this is the type of thing I'm talking about.
this is the same Hollywood film industry whose members fund causes and candidates that favor raising taxes on everyone else. The Motion Picture Production and Distribution industry last year gave $14 million in political contributions: 89% went to pro-tax Democrats. A few years ago, director Rob Reiner funded a successful California initiative to raise the state income tax rate to more than 10%. Unlike a film shoot, which can relocate on a moment's notice, your average small businessman in Encino is stuck paying the highest tax rate in the country -- at least until he gives up and moves to Reno.
This is the type of anecdote that turns all those progressive liberal tax enthusiasts on their head--this is the hypocrisy that proves the rule. Like their dearleader, the teleprompter, they see progressive, confiscatory tax rates as social justice.

But they never want to put their money where their mouths are; they want everyone else to pay higher taxes while they carve out deals for themselves with their friends in power. But the WSJ puts it better:
states shouldn't chase smoke stacks or film production crews with specific tax breaks. It makes much more sense for cities, states and the federal government to lower tax rates for everyone. New York City can survive without Alec Baldwin and "30 Rock," but it can't function without the thousands of small businesses that pay taxes without the benefit of lobbyists and loopholes.
Though I'd hate to see 30 Rock go the way of Arrested Development, it would be amusing (cue schadenfreude) if liberal Alec Baldwin lost his job to higher taxes too.

Unfortunately for all the real employees of GE & the Scheinhardt Wig company, they can't hang out in Hollywood while they wait to hook up with a new gig in time for pilot season.

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