Massachusetts gave millions of dollars in commercial tax credits last year to subsidize everything from cleaning polluted land in Quincy to filming the upcoming Mark Wahlberg movie, according to a new report by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
Overall, the state gave companies more than $171 million in 2011 in refundable or transferable tax credits for making films, rehabilitating old historic buildings, redeveloping contaminated land, creating life sciences jobs, and other activities. These special types of tax credits can be bought, sold, or exchanged for cash.
The report, mandated under a 2011 budget amendment, is the first ever detailing all recipients of the tax credits. The commercial tax credits are a way to attract new investment and economic activity to the state.
Other major beneficiaries include the Los Angeles production company that made “Ted,” which received $9 million; an affiliate of Boston real estate developer The Congress Group, which received $8 million in brownfields tax credits for an apartment complex on a polluted site in Quincy; and Partners HealthCare System Inc., which received $6.8 million in brownfields credits to clean a Charlestown site where it is moving Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital from its current location near TD Garden.
Congress Group president Dean F. Stratouly said the tax credits were helpful because the firm had to spend $40 million on cleanup costs alone for the $260 million Quincy project, which will eventually include more than 1,000 units. The site was polluted by landfill from the urban renewal project that razed much of Boston’s West End decades ago.
The brownfields program offers developers a rebate of a portion of expenses for cleaning up and redeveloping contaminated property.
The report covers 13 tax credit programs. The state has in the past disclosed recipients in a few of the programs, including life sciences awards, but considered the rest confidential.
But the Governor and the Legislature agreed to change the law two years ago because companies typically trade them back to the state for cash, or sell them to corporations and wealthy individuals seeking to lower their tax bills.
The new report did not detail who bought the tax credits. The state also said it planned to continue to treat as confidential most of the tax credits awarded before 2011.
Still, some watchdogs and lawmakers praised the increased disclosure.
For assistance in applying for commercial tax credits, or the sale or syndication of commercial tax credits, contact Warren at the Cherrytree Group.