The Simple Math Behind New York’s $7.7 Billion Subsidy to Hollywood Film/TV Producers


$7.7 billion – the math
Nowhere in the proposed budget for State FY 2024 does it come out and say taxpayers will give Hollywood producers a total of $7.7 billion over the next eleven years, but the math is simple:

11 years x $700 million = $7.7 billion

Governor Hochul’s FY 2024 Executive Budget says this about the Empire State Film Production credit:

The aggregate amount of tax credits allowed in subdivision (a) of this section shall be increased by…. $700 million each year starting in 2024 through 2034. (see Revenue, Part D)

Reinvent Albany confirmed with the state comptroller and legislative staff that the period of the subsidy is eleven years, 2024 through 2034. 

Normally, the state announces the total value of mega-subsidies 
The governor’s 2022 press release announcing the Micron mega-subsidy deal cites a total of $5.5 billion total in state Green CHIPS subsidies over 20 years. We find it notable that supporters of the gigantic film/TV subsidy only mention the subsidy cost per year.

$66,810/year for each full-time film/TV production job – the math 

$327,372,448 taxpayer subsidies/4,900 full-time jobs = $66,810 per full-time job

According to Empire State Development, in the fourth quarter of 2022 (Q4):

  • NYS paid out $327,372,448 in reimbursements to film/TV producers. 
  • Film/TV producers filed reimbursements for people working 10,190,810 hours.
  • 2,080 is the standard number of hours worked per year for full-time equivalents (FTE).
  • 10,190,810/2,080 = 4,900 FTE

See our March 7, 2023 analysis for more. 

“Tax credits” are NOT “tax breaks.” They are taxpayer payments to Hollywood producers in the form of refunds on a tax return. 
The taxpayer reimburses the Hollywood producer for 25% or 30% of their production costs, regardless of whether their film or show loses money or is ever seen by the public. 

Independent experts: film/TV subsidies bad investment of public funds
There is substantial evidence from independent studies that film/TV tax credits do not create promised economic effects on jobs, incomes, or economic growth.

Read more on why we think the $7.7 billion film/TV subsidy is a terrible deal for taxpayers.