Weinstein Scandal Puts Heat on New York Film Tax Credits

Daily Tax Report: State provides authoritative coverage of state and local tax developments across the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, tracking legislative and regulatory updates,...

By Gerald B. Silverman

The Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal continues to put the spotlight on New York’s $420 million film tax credit program.

State Sen. Robert G. Ortt (R) issued a brief statement Oct. 27 calling for an end to all film tax credits in the state as a result of the credits received by The Weinstein Co.

The proposal is the second in the past month to limit tax breaks in New York based on the Weinstein scandal. Legislation is being drafted in the state Assembly to prohibit any company doing business in the state or New York City from receiving tax breaks if they knew or should have known about sexual harassment and failed to respond.

A Bloomberg Tax analysis of the film tax credits found that The Weinstein Co. received $4.5 million in tax credits in 2016 for production of the movie ‘‘St. Vincent.’’

“Just when we thought we couldn’t be more sickened by the revelations surrounding Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood executives, New Yorkers learn that they wrote a $5 million check to Mr. Weinstein’s company,” Ortt said in a statement. “As the state faces a potential $4 billion budget deficit next year, let this serve as a timely catalyst to eliminate taxpayers’ $420 million-a-year giveaway to the film and television industry.”

“It will be a flawed argument—morally and fiscally—if the governor and Legislature continue corporate Hollywood welfare while cutting funding for disability programs, mental health treatment, opioid and addiction services, or education aid,” said Ortt, who is co-chairman of the Senate Task Force on Workforce Development and chairman of the Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee.

‘Knew or Should Have Known’

New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D) is sponsoring a proposed measure, which is expected to be introduced shortly, that would ban tax credits for any company, its parent, any of its subsidiaries, or its principals if they knew or should have known about sexual harassment, discrimination, or general harassment and took no action to stop it.

The bill would cover tax credits across all industries and property tax abatements, Rosenthal said in an Oct. 17 statement.

Companies would be required to disclose its sexual harassment policy and the number, type, and disposition of sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination cases involving their employees within the previous five years, as part of their applications for tax breaks.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s (D) press secretary, Dani Lever, told Bloomberg Tax in an Oct. 18 email that the governor supports Rosenthal’s proposed legislation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gerald B. Silverman in Albany, N.Y. at GSilverman@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Cheryl Saenz at csaenz@bna.com

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