A new report by the Government Accountability Institute has discovered that, according to the California Film Commission, Ben Affleck and George Clooney’s Oscar-winning film, Argo, received $6.21 million in California film tax credits.
Last October, Affleck, a committed and vocal Democrat, told Bill O’Reilly that President Barack Obama’s “major policy goal of changing the tax structure so that the wealthy pay their fair share, to me, is of towering importance.” Argo’s producer, Clooney, has also been a strong Obama supporter, hosting a fundraiser for the president at his Los Angeles home and another in Geneva.
Forty states offer film subsidies totaling $1.51 billion. Film tax credits may be used to defray income and sales taxes incurred during a film or TV production. Some states allow leftover tax credits to be converted into cash that filmmakers can keep—paid for by taxpayers.
The $6.21 million taxpayers shelled out to fund Affleck’s Argo covered 20 percent of the film’s “qualified expenditures,” which includes props, crews, set construction and other costs excluding producers, directors, and actors.
Hollywood industry executives claim taxpayer-funded film credits help states create jobs and spur tourism. Critics, however, cite several studies showing that alleged economic gains are illusory.
At a time when much of Hollywood is pleading for higher taxes on the wealthy to pay their “fair share,” and city governments are going belly up, critics say it does not make sense for major movie companies to be bagging $1.5 billion in “Hollywood welfare.”
“I’m just about the biggest critic of these programs, because giving away the taxes of the city is so detrimental,” said Pontiac, MI emergency manager Louis Schimmel. “The money is needed for police, fire and trash pickup.”
Argo won Best Picture at last night's Oscars.