ALBANY – Hopefully New Yorkers like NBC’s crime thriller Blacklist.

Taxpayer have dished out $63.3 million in film-tax breaks for the first three seasons, new state records show.

The SONY studios’ show got $43.7 million for seasons two and three in the second quarter of this year, according to Empire State Development, which oversees New York’s film-tax credit program.

It was paid $19.6 million for the first season from the state in 2016, records show.

Empire State Development said the payout was worth it. New York provides a rebate of 30 percent to 40 percent on production costs for films and shows shot in the state.

Blacklist’s production injected $189 million into the state’s economy and hired more than 10,000 people, supporting hundreds of local small businesses,” the agency said.

The big picture

The show is not alone is getting back big bucks from New York’s $420 million a year film-tax credit program, the largest in the nation.

A state law in 2013 required New York to make public how much in tax breaks shows and movies received.

So now after a few years of self reporting, there is a larger picture of how much New York is spending.

In fact, Blacklist isn’t even the most a show has gotten in tax breaks from New York.

The CBS drama Elementary was paid nearly $81 million in New York tax dollars for seasons two through five of the series, including $20.6 million for season five, the latest public filing showed.

CBS’ crime show Blue Bloods nearly got as much from New York for seasons four through seven, receiving $79 million back in production costs from the state, the records showed.

Another CBS show, Madam Secretarygot $60.4 million for its first three seasons. The show is filmed partly in Westchester County.

There was no immediate comment from CBS about the tax breaks for the shows. SONY referred comment about Blacklist’s breaks to the state.

Critics said the film-tax program is based on a cost-benefit ratio that assumes no productions would film in New York without the subsidy.

“This remains the single largest and most outrageous corporate giveaway on the books in New York today, bar none,” said E.J. McMahon, founder of the Empire Center for New York Policy, a conservative think tank in Albany.

Live from New York

The program, state officials said, is to attract new productions to New York, and the incentives have led to a boom in the state’s industry.

“New York’s booming film and television industry is thanks in large part to the state’s tax credit program, which has generated $31 billion in spending and over 1.6 million hires since its inception in 2004,” Empire State Development said Wednesday.

“And for every dollar in incentives Empire State Development provides to film and TV productions, New York receives $1.15 in return.”

The largest single tax break was the $24.5 million that season two of Fox’s show Gotham received last year.

Even long-standing New York shows reap the benefits from the incentives.

Saturday Night Live, for example, got $42.7 million from New York taxpayers in recent years.

Overall, New York offers $8 billion a year in subsidies to companies who locate or stay in the state. The film-tax credits program is the largest of them all.

In 2017, the USA Today Network in New York found studios got about $42,300 for every direct job created in 2015 and 2016.

Several states have shuttered their programs amid questions about their value.

Others, like Georgia and California, have expanded their production incentives to compete with New York, an investigation by the USA Today Network’s Albany Bureau last year found.

© 2018 Gannett

You may also like

State’s Growing Budget Hole Threatens NYC Jobs and Aid as Congress Takes a Holiday

“The biggest problem for the state is the enormous, recurring structural budget gap starting next year and into the future,” said E.J. McMahon of the conservative-leaning Empire Center. “Cuomo clearly hopes that starting in 2021, (Democratic presidential candidate Joseph) Biden and a Democratic Congress will provide states and local government a couple of year’s worth of added stimulus. Read More

How Andrew Cuomo became ‘maybe the most powerful governor’ in U.S.

Ed McKinley ALBANY — When the New York Constitution was reorganized nearly 100 years ago to give the governor more power over the budget process,  noted there was a risk of making “the governor a czar." M Read More

Study disputes Cuomo on Trump tax package; experts say it’s complicated

Michael Gormley ALBANY — A new study by a conservative think tank says President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law gave most New Yorkers a tax cut, even as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo insists on repealing the measure because he says it will cost New Yo Read More

Empire Center sues Department of Health over nursing home records

Johan Sheridan ALBANY, N.Y. () — The Empire Center filed a  against the state Department of Health on Friday. “This case isn’t about assigning blame or embarrassing political leaders,” said Bill Hammond, the Empire Center’s Read More

Good news: That New York pork isn’t going out the door after all

The Empire Center first reported Tuesday that grants — 226 of them, totaling $46 million, to recipients selected by the governor and individual state lawmakers — seemed to still be going ahead. Read More

New York Lawmakers Seek Independent Probe of Nursing-Home Coronavirus Deaths

With lingering questions about how the novel coronavirus killed thousands of New Yorkers who lived in nursing homes, a group of state lawmakers is pushing to create an independent commission to get answers from the state Department of Health. Read More

Policy analyst: Cuomo wrong to write-off nursing home criticism as political conspiracy

“The importance of discussing this and getting the true facts out is to understand what did and didn’t happen so we can learn from it in case this happens again,” Hammond said. Read More

EDITORIAL: Nursing home report requires a second opinion

No doubt, the Health Department and the governor would like this report to be the final word on the subject. But if it’s all the same with them, we’d still like a truly independent review. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130
E-Mail: info@empirecenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo "...the Empire Center is the think tank that spent months trying to pry Covid data out of Mr. Cuomo's government, which offered a series of unbelievable excuses for its refusal to disclose...five months after it (the Empire Center) sued, Team Cuomo finally started coughing up some of the records." -Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2021

SIGN UP TO READ ABOUT THE ISSUES IMPACTING NEW YORKERS.