SBD/December 31, 2012/Finance

Electronic Arts Receives $9.1M In Florida Tax Breaks After Helping Shape Tax Laws

Electronic Arts has been “the biggest beneficiary” over the past three years as the Florida legislature has “dramatically expanded the amount of incentives available to film and entertainment companies,” according to Jason Garcia of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Florida awarded EA more than $9.1M in tax credits during the state's ‘11-12 fiscal year to “subsidize development of the 2012 editions of three popular EA sports games: Madden NFL, NCAA Football and Tiger Woods PGA Tour.” It was the “largest amount one company has received in a single year in the history of Florida's entertainment-based incentive program.” Next year “should be even better for EA, which generated more than $4 billion in worldwide sales during its fiscal 2012.” The company is “tentatively in line for $14.5 million worth of tax credits -- to subsidize development of the 2013 versions of the same three video games.” EA is “profiting so handsomely from Florida's entertainment incentives because it helped rewrite the state program.” Records show that lobbyists for EA “have worked closely with an influential Central Florida lawmaker -- state Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando -- to mold the 9-year-old program to EA's advantage.” EA said that the entire video game industry “now employs more than 6,000 people statewide at an annual average wage of $80,000.” But critics “accuse EA of squeezing profits out of taxpayers by playing states against one another in the name of ‘economic development.’” The critics also “call the changes wrought by Electronic Arts in Florida law a vivid illustration of how some large companies … have been able to bend the state's tax code in their favor” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/30).
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