Is Hollywood Ripping You Off?

In the world of tax incentives, there are winners and losers. This week, City of Detroit approved a $135,000,000 tax abatement over 25 years for General Motors to build the Chevy Volt electric car at the Poletown plant. For that, GM says it will hire 550 additional employees.

This is usually how it works: a company (A) wants to make something (B) and asks the government for financial consideration (C)even though everyone knows they have the cash to pay for it itself.

Much is the same with Hollywood.

But, earlier this year, Lansing approved tax incentives to bring left coast lens-men (and women) to town. Since the Michigan Film Incentive Program was approved 60 films have been approved to shoot around the state. And since then, people have been stargazing. Michael Cera in Youth in Revolt, his Juno co-star Ellen Page and Juliette Lewis in the Drew Barrymore helmed Whip It, Clint Eastwood starring/directing Gran Torino, The Butterfly Effect: Revelations (Part 3) and several others. There's also talk of David Fincher using Detroit for interiors in the upcoming Matt Damon film about Elliot Ness and a serial killer called Torso.

Last year, before the incentives were approved, only three films were shot in the state.

So, where are we roughly six months into the incentives?

According to State Representative Andy Meisner (D) of Ferndale, the program is helping more than just film production companies.

State Senator Tom George(R) of Kalamazoo says he backs the incentives program, but its cost is too much. He says Michigan has given away $144,000,000 since April. George has a bill pending in Lansing that would limit the Michigan Film Incentive Program to $100,000,000 a year.

Meanwhile, fellow Republican State Representative Chuck Moss created this video poking fun at the incentive package and the current state of Michigan�s business tax structure.

While both sides talk it out. What do you think?

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