Lights, camera, subsidy: Tax credits for film a political favorite, with questionable success

05/26/2022

  Crew members move along Pittsburgh's Fourth Avenue on Aug. 12, 2011, directing special vehicles being driven during a filming session for the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises." Keith Srakocic / AP photo

Pennsylvania is considering nearly doubling the size of its film subsidy program, despite substantial research that shows the tax breaks and cash giveaways offer little bang for the buck. Indeed, a state analysis concluded Pennsylvanians received a return of investment of 13.1 cents for every $1 they gave away to film production companies.

“Those are very, very problematic programs,” Kasia Tarczynska, senior research analyst at Good Jobs First, which promotes corporate and government accountability in economic development, told The Center Square. “Film subsidies have a negative return on investment. Meaning, for every dollar invested in those programs, states recoup pennies.”

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