Universal Orlando claims tax credits for creating jobs in "high crime" area

Posted Monday, February 4, 2013 10:32 PM | Contributed by VitaminsAndGravy

Harry Potter helped win a multimillion-dollar tax break for creating jobs in an “urban high-crime area.” Records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel show that Universal has claimed more than $2.3 million worth of state tax credits since mid-2010 based on jobs it added to accommodate the millions of travelers flocking to Wizarding World.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, February 4, 2013 10:39 PM

I can't say I blame them for something that's available. There's a long recurring theme of the state offering incentives in a way that they haven't really thought through, especially when it comes to the theme parks. This is just another one of those situations.

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Monday, February 4, 2013 10:49 PM

This is part of what concerns me with tax reforming initiatives. Those asking for reform are coming from the right place, but businesses build these tax advantages into their pro forma.

If you eliminate the tax advantage, something else in the equation has to change to maintain the same level of results (and yes, maintaining or improving the results is always the primary function of a business). Often that means higher prices, lower wages, or layoffs. This is not a growth industry; new sources of revenue are few and far between. 

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013 2:05 AM

There is something ironic about a "tax break for creating jobs in an 'urban high-crime area,' ” considering that some of those jobs went to Spiderman, Hulk, and other Marvel super heroes in Islands of Adventure.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013 9:11 AM

Well, with Dr. Doom, Dr. Octopus, Voldemort, Bluto, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and Snidely Whiplash, the places is chock full of villains and mischief-makers. ;~)

All kidding aside, though, every business making any serious money these days spends a whole lot making sure their tax burden is low or non-existent, and that all possible subsidies/infrastructure enhancements come at the expense of the taxpayers, and to the benefit of the shareholders. We built this...

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013 12:30 PM

Dr. Phillips is a high crime area? Yikes....!! I know Pine Hills is g-to-the-hetto! But the whole Universal area looks like a country club.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013 8:29 PM

I question the whole premise...the area Universal is in is "high crime"? Isn't it mostly businesses, hotels, and tourists? Where do these crime-committers live, exactly?

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013 10:06 PM

The real crime is how much they charge for parking!!!!

Am I right, enthusiasts?

HEY-OH!!!!!!!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013 11:46 PM

bjames said:

I question the whole premise...the area Universal is in is "high crime"? Isn't it mostly businesses, hotels, and tourists? Where do these crime-committers live, exactly?

By their very nature commercial areas are higher crime areas.

Which is exactly what makes the tax credit a bit humorous to me. Business develops a commercial area. The crime that naturally comes with some development follows and then the business gets a tax credit for being in a high crime area.

It's brilliant, really.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, February 5, 2013 11:47 PM
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013 12:10 AM

kpjb beat me to it. It's a high crime area because of all the tourists getting mugged on their way into the parking structure...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013 10:34 AM

So Orlando's "high-crime" zone includes some of its poorest urban neighborhoods, such as Parramore and Washington Shores — but it also includes prosperous commercial locales, such as Universal and the Mall at Millenia.

But city officials didn't limit their zone to Orlando's struggling areas. Taking advantage of a provision in the law allowing the designated area to be as big as 20 square miles, they drew a meandering district that stretches from downtown to the International Drive tourist corridor.

Having lived in Orlando for the last 3 years I can say there is no one bad section of town. All the bad sections are scattered throughout the Orlando area.

Last edited by Alexx Argen, Wednesday, February 6, 2013 10:36 AM
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013 4:45 PM

And in all seriousness, I can't think of a tourist area that *isn't* most likely a "high crime" area. Tourists tend to be somewhat careless, and they tend to carry a lot of valuables with them. They also tend to leave valuable stuff in whatever vehicles they are driving, and they are in an unfamiliar area, surrounded by extreme levels of distraction. This makes them easy targets. The Bad Guys know this, and will patrol their beats accordingly.

If that isn't a sort of perfect environment for a whole lot of property crime, then I don't know what is.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013 5:19 PM

That's pretty much what I was saying, Dave.

You create an area that is high crime by it's very nature, then benefit from tax credits because you exist in a high crime area.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013 9:57 PM

Yeah, pretty much. Except I singled out the tourists. You can still take credit for saying it first. :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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