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Senator joins stage actors in pushing for theater tax break

NEW YORK - U.S. Senator Charles Schumer joined actors Neil Patrick Harris, Bryan Cranston, other top Broadway actors and characters, as well as a number of Broadway producers, as he announced his campaign to give Broadway and live theater productions a major tax break that will encourage investment and spur job creation on the Great White Way. Schumer today called for passage of his key amendment that would change the federal tax code and create equal tax treatment for live theater by extending its investors the same benefits afforded already to film and television producers. Schumer today noted that individual investors are the backbone of this industry, but it is often a prohibitively risky enterprise to invest and finance commercial stage production. Schumer is rallying for his plan to help alter that reality; last week, he successfully fought for his amendment to be included in a Senate tax bill in that will be considered for a full vote in the Senate in the coming weeks.

The event included Schumer, Harris, Cranston, Tyne Daly, cast members from The Phantom of the OperaNewsies andRodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Broadway producer Harvey Weinstein, Nick Scandalios, Chairman of The Broadway League and Executive Vice President of the Nederlander Organization and a number of other stakeholders in Broadway.

“Standing with this uncommon cast of characters, I’m making a final push to strengthen the very fiber of New York’s being: Broadway and live theater,” said Senator Schumer. “This plan, which would eliminate a double standard when it comes to taxing the entertainment industry, will mean more shows on Broadway, more jobs and more investment in-and-around the Great White Way,” said Schumer. “Culture and entertainment is one of America’s great economic drivers and investing in live theater is absolutely fundamental to the nurturing and growth of this critical sector of our national economy. As an integral part of the entertainment industry, live theater must be offered the same federal tax incentives as those afforded to television and film productions, so that investment in commercial stage production does not get pushed abroad. I am urging my colleagues to get this plan over the finish line and give its regards to Broadway!”

“With this historical tax amendment, Senator Schumer recognizes the importance of attracting investment in Broadway, both in New York City and across the country. Individual investors are the backbone of this iconic industry which entertains and supports the entire cultural community,” said Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of the Broadway League. “Because of Senator Schumer’s unwavering support, Broadway investors may finally gain a level of parity with the film and television industry in a monumental incentive for attracting new capital and eliminating some of the obstacles that currently dissuade potential backers from investing in live theatre.”

The U.S. tax code now permits expensing of qualified film and television production costs up to $15 million when 75% of compensation paid is for services performed in the United States.  Accordingly, studios producing movies and television shows may immediately recoup their investments before taxes are assessed on any profits earned.  Under current law, Broadway shows and live theatrical productions are not offered the same federal tax incentives. Schumer’s amendment would allow live theater investors to receive the same benefit.

According to the Broadway League, Broadway attendance in 2012-2013 reached 11.5 million. Broadway contributes $11 billion to New York City’s economy on top of ticket sales and supports 86,000 jobs. Broadway is a world renowned tourist attraction, with over 7 million tickets purchased by visitors per year. Broadway also attracts repeat visitors; 58 percent of the audience attends at least two shows a season.