Film subsidies trap Maryland taxpayers in ‘House of Cards’

Maryland politicians cast their film incentives program as the only way to lure productions like ‘House of Cards’ and boost the state’s economy.

Yet it could be that star-struck politicians and Hollywood producers are deceiving taxpayers just like the characters do in the popular fictional television show, which dramatizes the cunning trickery and cutthroat tactics of Washington, D.C.

From fiscal year 2012 to 2016, Maryland will have doled out $62.5 million in refundable tax credits for the film industry, with 96.5 percent of that total going to the production of two television series — ‘House of Cards’ and ‘VEEP.’ And yet, despite all of those breaks for Hollywood and claims of economic growth, a new study by the state’s legislative watchdog arm recommends the Maryland General Assembly allow for the subsidies to sunset in 2016.

Only time will tell whether Maryland’s Gov.-elect Larry Hogan will close the curtain on tax subsidies for Hollywood, or give a crutch to big business and push for their continuance.

“As soon as a film production ends, all positive economic impacts cease too,” the report from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services reads. “… Going forward, DLS recommends that the General Assembly focus economic development efforts on incentives that create permanent and lasting employment, rather than temporary jobs.”

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