U.S. Tax Hikes on Rich Could Help Indie Filmmakers, Says Producer

Wealthy film investors, such as Megan Ellison, may see new tax shelters in response to Obama's tax hike plans

Mike Ryan, who produced 'Junebug,' 'Choke' and Bela Tarr's 'The Turin Horse,' says tax shelters are likely to be boosted if President Obama's plans go ahead.

Independent filmmakers could get a boost if plans to hike taxes on America's wealthiest, expected to be part of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday, go ahead.

Mike Ryan, who produced Junebug and executive produced Choke, Last Weekend and European art-house master Bela Tarr's The Turin Horse, said that the plans to raise $320 billion over the next 10 years by hiking taxes for the wealthiest would likely boost the number and range of legal shelters designed to reduce tax bills.

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"A lot of U.S indie films are financed with 100 percent equity," Ryan, of Greyshack Films, said Tuesday at the 5th edition of When East Meets West, a co-production and industry networking event hosted by Italy's Trieste Film Festival.

He added: "A smart investor will take the tax credit [available at rates of up to 30 percent in some U.S. states] as his first return." Proposals to increase taxes on the wealthy tend to be ameliorated by the addition of tax shelters, Ryan argued.

Wealthy investors such as software heiress Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures, who backed Oscar-nominated Foxcatcher, fund movies via tax shelters to reduce their overall IRS bill, Ryan said. "A lot of wealthy people invest in films for cultural reasons, not just as a business," Ryan said, adding that where a tax shelter offered financial advantages it made it easier to persuade investors to back an indie movie.

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President Obama, who wants to limit profits from investments and the ability to pass on assets to heirs for the wealthiest taxpayers, faces an uphill battle with a Republican-controlled Congress.

 

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