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NY may grant tax breaks to video game, music makers

ALBANY -- First, New York provided tax breaks to Hollywood, then to TV productions and soon could lend a hand to video game developers and music producers to weave their virtual adventures and hits.

The Senate late Thursday gave final legislative approval to dangle $25 million in tax breaks to retain and attract video game developers and another $25 million to attract and retain music productions. The bill now goes to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for his signature or veto. Cuomo has been a strong advocate of expanding tax credits to grow entertainment industry jobs including a $420 million a year in tax credits for film and TV productions.

Cuomo has hyped the investments when films and TV shows such as “Louie” filmed in New York with tax credits win major awards. But researchers and financial analysts have long questioned the value of providing tax breaks to wealthy industries on the backs of the remaining taxpayers. Still, other researchers note the race between the states means dropping out or reducing the lures could lose whatever entertainment jobs they have to other states (

“Assuming it’s signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has yet to meet an entertainment industry tax break he doesn’t like, the new tax credits will remain in effect for at least three years -- which means they will cost us up to $150 million by 2021,” said E.J. McMahon, CEO of the nonpartisan, fiscally conservative think tank Empire Center.

“Expect the industry to begin claiming well before then that the program has been a tremendous success, as shown by inflated statistics based on the premise that absolutely no music production or video game development in the state would have occurred in the absence of the credit,” McMahon said Friday.

The music industry said the measure will mean jobs for New York.

“Today is a day for celebration, not just for those of us who have recorded music in New York for decades, but also for the next generation of musicians and engineers,” said Ben Allison of The Recording Academy New York Chapter, who is also a bassist, producer, and recording artist. “This tax credit is a win for local economies all across the state that won’t be handicapped anymore in competing for music jobs.”

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