Pennsylvania Wanted Russell Crowe to Shoot a Movie. Now It Wants Him to Pay His Taxes

Russell Crowe
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UPDATE: Pennsylvania admits it was wrong, and that Crowe actually paid his state taxes on time. More below.

In 2014, Pennsylvania used a film tax incentive to lure Russell Crowe to Pittsburgh.

Ever since then, the state has been chasing after the Oscar-winning “Gladiator” actor, trying to get him to pay his income taxes.

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue filed an application in Los Angeles Superior Court for a judgment against Crowe in the amount of $129,833.50.

The application does not cite “Fathers and Daughters,” the film Crowe shot in the state in 2014, nor does it say anything else about the source of the debt. But a tax lien filed last year in Cumberland County, Pa., indicated that Crowe owed more than $100,000 in unpaid state income taxes from 2014.

Voltage Pictures shot “Fathers and Daughters” in the Pittsburgh area that year, according to the Pennsylvania Film Office and local news reports.

Pennsylvania offers a 25% tax credit to incentivize filming in the state, with the program capped at $70 million a year. In 2014, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported that “Fathers and Daughters” was awarded a $5,660,952 tax credit.

In January 2019, the state’s Independent Fiscal Office warned that a “drawback” of the state’s program is that it tends to reward big-budget productions with highly paid actors.

“Much of the economic impact flows out of the state to non-resident labor,” the office stated in its report, advising lawmakers to focus instead on mid-budget films. “Higher utilization of resident labor will reduce spending that leaves the state and increase the economic impact from the tax credit. There will be a larger ‘bang for the buck.'”

Pennsylvania has a flat income tax rate of about 3%. If the lien amount is correct, it would suggest that Crowe was paid more than $3 million for his work there in 2014.

Some Pennsylvania legislators are looking to raise the cap on the program, in hopes of attracting more productions out of rival states. On Oct. 31, 2019, director M. Night Shyamalan urged a committee of state representatives to eliminate the cap, saying it would allow for investment in film infrastructure. Shyamalan recently shot “Servant,” his Apple TV Plus show, in Pennsylvania.

“It was on budget, they loved the experience, the crew, the people of Philadelphia,” Shyamalan told the committee, according to a WHYY report. “They would do other shows here if the cap wasn’t there.”

“Fathers and Daughters” was released in the U.S. in July 2016, and grossed $5.6 million worldwide on a budget of $22.4 million, according to IMDb.

UPDATE: On Sept. 24, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue filed a stipulation to dismiss the case. The department stated that “due to a mistake in the paperwork filed by a third party payroll company,” the state had no record that Crowe had paid his taxes. The department was subsequently able to confirm that he did pay his taxes at the time they were owed.

The judgment was vacated and the case was dismissed.