House of Cards, Veep Tax Breaks Aren’t Worth It, State Report Says

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casting callYou may love all of the restaurant sightings and fake campaign buses that go along with having political TV shows filming in town, but a state agency says the tax credits that provide incentive for TV producers to film D.C.-set shows in Baltimore aren’t a good investment for Maryland.

A draft report from the Department of Legislative Services, which serves as the state’s independent budget analysts, said the tax break program “does not provide sustainable economic development and provides a small return on investment.” Ultimately, the number-crunchers recommend allowing the program to expire when it comes up for renewal in 2016. That’s because the state only gets six cents for every dollar spent on the tax breaks, and local governments only get four cents.

The report specifically points out Veep and House of Cards, saying the productions receive 96.5 percent of the tax credits that were doled out over the last four years. The two shows, produced by HBO and Netflix, respectively, received $60.3 million in tax breaks to film in Baltimore City and other areas.

They question whether the shows should have gotten the money they did.

“While larger productions of feature films or television series may certainly provide significant spending in the state, it is not clear if portions of the credits provided to these two productions could have instead been allocated to a larger number of productions,” the report states.

The auditors also say the tax break money should go to other areas of the state, not just Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and Harford County.

The Washington Post editorial board seems to agree. In an editorial in today’s paper, the paper called the report a “small gift” for governor-elect Larry Hogan, who made reining in state spending the centerpiece of his campaign.

“If there’s a fatter target for Mr. Hogan’s budget-cutters, we don’t know what it is,” WaPo writes.

The argument may have some logic, but we know that, deep down, it’s driven by D.C.’s desire to have Spacey all to themselves.


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