The Washington Post

From bro code to tax code

Actor Bryan Cranston, left, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and actor Neil Patrick Harris at Sardi’s in New York City on April 7 for  Schumer’s announcement that his campaign would give Broadway and live theater productions a major tax break. (Monica Schipper/Getty Images)

A womanizer, meth lord and politician walk into a room.

A fantastic setup for a sitcom? Unfortunately, no. But the actors who played legen — wait for it — dary characters Barney Stinson and Walter White have banded together with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on tax policy.

The A-list TV actors, now Broadway stage sensations — Bryan Cranston playing Lyndon B. Johnson (expertly, we’re told) and Neil Patrick Harris as a transgender woman — joined Schumer in Manhattan last month to throw their considerable star power behind an otherwise small slice of a pending tax extenders package: Tax deductions for financiers of plays and musicals.

“We’re here … to make sure Broadway and live theater gets the same tax benefits as film does,” Schumer said at the event.

The new theater tax credit has passed through the requisite congressional committees as part of a larger tax extenders bill that is expected to be at center stage on the Senate floor next week. The Broadway League, the industry’s trade group, has spent $30,000 a quarter of late on “tax reform as it impacts Broadway investment,” according to lobbying disclosure forms.

Movie and television producers can expense up to $15 million of its costs when most of its production is done in the United States. Schumer and Co. want to extend that benefit to live theater in the name of entertainment parity. The theater world argues that such an incentive would encourage more financial backers to invest in Broadway shows — a risky endeavor since so many plays close when they can’t generate enough buzz.

One surefire way to ensure attention? Sign up some big-name stars. Works for Broadway … and Congress.

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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