AP, LTW

RALEIGH, N.C. — The state Senate has approved a long list of tax breaks and business-friendly changes estimated to cost about $240 million in the next five years.

The Senate approved the bill Wednesday on a 30-16 vote. It now heads to the House.

Two large data centers are apparently among the potential high-tech opportunities for North Carolina.

According to a media report last week, Microsoft is mulling the building of a data center in Mebane.

North Carolina used a variety of tax incentives to land data centers from Google and Apple in Western N.C. as well as a variety of high-tech expansions in the Research Triangle area.

Reports have also circulated that the Triangle could land an additional data center.

Critics have repeatedly challenged the incentives in court, but their suits have been struck down.

The House passed a similar measure last month.

The collection of tax credits and other inducements range from extending the $1 per bushel credit for recycling oyster shells donated to the Division of Marine Fisheries to perks for companies that open in green-conscious industrial parks.

One change adopted Wednesday would allow a company that spends $500 million in one of the state’s poorest counties within five years to continue a state-approved tax accounting plan for eight years instead of the current three. The change is designed to attract a big company that expects to employ hundreds, said Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe.

“We’re dealing with a particular household name,” said Jenkins, whose home county qualifies as one of the state’s poorest.

The bill was changed to preserve a $1 million cap on the salaries of highly paid actors and directors that can be counted toward a total tax break raised from $7.5 million to $20 million.

Movie producers could write off their in-state spending from their state taxes or collect a multi-million-dollar refund check from taxpayers if they manage to avoid owing taxes.

Fewer major Hollywood movies have films in North Carolina since 2008’s “Nights in Rodanthe” with Richard Gere and Diane Lane and “Leatherheads” with George Clooney and Renee Zellweger.

Movie and TV projects spent $67 million in North Carolina on goods, services and salaries in 2007, $148 million in 2008 and $55 million in 2009, according to state Revenue Department records showing producers claimed $44 million in tax credits in those three years.

Senators continued a practice of tailoring tax breaks to major companies said to be considering operations in North Carolina.

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