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Saved 12/15/12 to Citizen 4.0

Alaska Taxpayers Kick in for Bristol's Reality Show


The California company that made Bristol Palin's TV show about raising her child has collected a $354,348 subsidy from the state.

Unlike nearly all of the other shows and films subsidized so far under the movie incentive program, the salaries paid to Alaska residents on the Palin show account for a majority of the total "Alaska expenses" for the TV show.

Palin and the five other Alaska residents who participated as "talent" on the show collected close to a half-million in wages.

Total "Alaska expenses," a term that is misleading because it includes money paid to people from Outside, were reported as $995,275.

"Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp" ran for 14 episodes last summer on the Lifetime Channel and did not gather big ratings for the cable network.

The Alaska subsidy is paid in the form of a transferable tax credit, but since the limited liability companies that make films don't pay a state tax, they sell the tax credits to other companies.

I refer to it as a subsidy because that is what it is. Calling it a "tax credit" is a misnomer since the recipients pay no taxes. The subsidy is equivalent to a cash payment from the general fund.

The document from the Alaska Film Office says the Helping Hands LLC paid $475,598 to "above the line" people from Alaska. "Above the line" is the term used to denote the stars, director, producer and other key figures in a production.

The salaries paid to people who worked on the physical production—running cameras and lights, etc.— totaled $32,400 for Alaska residents, according to the form. There were no Alaskans hired as crew for the show.

The subsidy paperwork says that six Alaskans were part of the "talent" for the show, Bristol Palin et al., and worked an average of 14 weeks.

The LLC also reported paying $74,057 in "above the line" wages to people from Outside and $148,450 to non-Alaskans for production work.

The production qualified for a seasonal subsidy of $4,964 because $248,206 was spent between Oct. 1 and March 30 in Alaska. The subsidy also included a "rural tax credit" of 79 cents, according to the form, because $39 was spent in a "rural community."

The program said that filming took place in Wasilla, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Big Lake, Palmer, Houston and Portage.

Talkeetna is one of the communities regarded as "rural," which gathers an additional 2 percent subsidy. (In the Fairbanks area, Two Rivers is regarded as rural, as is Fox. North Pole is not, but Salcha is.

With wages to Alaskans coming in at $508,000, the subsidy calculation includes a 10 percent "Alaska hire credit" worth $50,800 on top of the base 30 percent subsidy.

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