Saturday, November 28, 2015         

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Higher tax credits for films are OK'd

The breaks partially aimed at diversifying the state's economy will kick in on July 1

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press


Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed a law increasing tax credits for filmmakers to help expand Hawaii's movie industry.

The law, which goes into effect July 1, extends film tax credits until 2019. It boosts the credit to 25 percent from 20 percent on the neighbor islands, and to 20 percent from 15 percent for projects on Oahu.

Movie productions will be able to claim a credit of up to $15 million.

Advocates of the measure have said it will help diversify Hawaii's economy, which relies greatly on tourism and the military.

Maui County Council Chairwoman Gladys Baisa told state legislators who deliberated the proposal that the larger tax credits will help compensate for the high cost of producing movies in Hawaii. She said the measure will add needed jobs for local people.

The Tax Foundation of Hawaii, an educational nonprofit organization, has been highly critical of the tax credits.

"Taxpayers should be insulted that lawmakers can provide breaks for film productions but refuse to provide tax relief for residents, many of whom work two or three jobs just to keep a roof over their head and food on the table," the organization wrote in testimony submitted to the Legislature.

The group called the credits "a drain on the state treasury" and said the money would be better spent on school infrastructure repairs, social programs or tax relief.

Hawaii has been the site of popular TV shows and films including "Lost" and "The Descendants."

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