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Clint Eastwood Taxes: Film Director Benefited From Generous Credits

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CLINT EASTWOOD REPUBLICAN CONVENTION
Film director Clint Eastwood, a star speaker at the Republican National Convention, has regularly relied on tax credits. | AP

WASHINGTON -- Film director Clint Eastwood will be cheering on Mitt Romney and his party's "you didn't build that!" message during Thursday night's Republican National Convention festivities.

But there's one small problem: Clint Eastwood didn't build that.

Just like the small business owners who spoke on previous nights at the convention in Tampa, Fla., Eastwood, a hugely successful independent filmmaker, has benefited from generous tax credits to produce his movies all over the world -- the same kinds of film tax credits that Romney signed into law as governor.

Eastwood received a 42 percent tax credit in 2008 after shifting the setting of his movie "Gran Torino" from Minneapolis to Detroit, a city dubbed by The New York Times as "the home of 42 percent tax credits for films made there."

Eastwood also took advantage of a Massachusetts tax credit in 2003 for filming "Mystic River" in that state.

His reliance on government aid has extended beyond U.S. borders. The Hollywood Reporter wrote in 2009 that his movie "Invictus" received a tax incentive package from the South African government that knocked $5 million off the film's budget. Eastwood's 2010 film "Hereafter" qualified for a 20 percent rebate from the French government and a received a 25 percent tax credit from the British government after certain scenes were filmed in each of the countries.

Eastwood's "Flags Of Our Fathers" also benefited from a 20 percent incentive package for filming in Iceland. Along with an explainer on the country's tax credit for filmmakers, Iceland's Film Commission features a quote from Eastwood on its website touting the benefits of filming in the country:

"Flying in over the black sand beaches and lava fields, I could see that Iceland had the rugged and unusual look we needed for our film, 'Flags Of Our Fathers.' I soon learned that Iceland also has friendly, hard-working people with a refreshing can-do spirit. The open roads and undisturbed countryside remind me of the way America was fifty years ago. With such gorgeous scenery, delicious fish and even golf, Iceland made for a terrific filming location," Eastwood said.

Romney is familiar with the kinds of tax breaks being used by film directors like Eastwood. As Massachusetts governor, he signed legislation offering an array of tax breaks aimed at attracting major films to his state. The Patriot Ledger reported in December 2005 that, because of the new package, a single film production could receive up to $7 million in tax credits, making Massachusetts "among the five most generous states in the country" at the time.

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue later reported that $19.1 million in tax credits were generated in fiscal 2006 alone.

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