Zurik: In-state or out-of-state expenses? Horizon docs raise more questions

Updated: Aug. 14, 2015 at 4:23 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Horizon received tax credits based on an audit that it submitted to the state.FOX 8 reviewed that audit as part of documentation about the company that the State Film Office handed over to us.

📷Horizon split its audit into two sections, Louisiana expenses and non-Louisiana expenses. Remember: They only receive credits for the money spent in state.

Horizon says it spent $1.5 million out of state. $3.4 million in state. Horizon wrote that "almost all expenditures were incurred in the state." But they chose not to receive tax credits on any of those expenses.

"It's hard to swallow something like that," says CPA Patrick Lynch, who examined the state's documentation for FOX 8. "If you're entitled to something, an expense, and as I say the film credits are predicated on the expenditures, you're not going to let that go away. You're in business to make money, and it's competitive. You don't have money to let slide."

Horizon reported $90,000 out-of-state spending on car and van rental, $97,000 on hotel rooms and corporate housing, and $10,000 on travel and airfare during the regular season, even though the Saintsations don't travel to away games. $21,000 went to gifts, Horizon says for the Saintsations. But the former Saintsation we talked to says they got nothing.

They put down $18,000 in meals, large purchases at the Apple Store, Rouses, and $7,000 for scissor lifts.

But show editor John Beyer says he never saw a scissor lift for Saintsational. "No. i would remember if usable shot from scissor lift. Beyer says. "We would have used it."

The state ignored the out-of-state spending, because they said it didn't figure into the overall tax credits. The non-Louisiana expenditures factored in to the overall money he got from the state.

The state is wrong because they didn't look at this. Horizon charged a creative supervisor or executive fee, 10 percent of the overall budget, in-state and out-of-state spending. So that $5 million budget led to a $500,000 fee. If the overall expenditure would have been lower, the fee would have dropped.

Horizon received credits off that $500,000 fee. The cost to taxpayers was $150,000.

Lynch says someone else needs to look at this audit. "Nothing really makes sense," he says. "There are red flags flying all over it. I think you need another auditor looking at this."

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