Film students, professors urge state lawmakers to keep tax credit for moviemaking

Film students and professors from more than a dozen colleges and universities in Massachusetts came to the Statehouse Monday to urge lawmakers to keep the state's film tax credit, saying helps boost their job prospects.

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Gov. Charlie Baker has called for the elimination of the tax credit, arguing that it largely helps out-of-state and Hollywood production companies.

But the students argued that the incentive to make movies would diminish in the Bay State and they would likely be forced to look elsewhere for employment.

"I know the job opportunities available to me after graduation won't exist without the tax credit," said Malaika Woluchem, a Northeastern University student who has worked at a documentary production company.

The tax incentive includes a 25 percent production credit, a 25 percent payroll credit and a sales tax exemption.

Baker has proposed doing away with the credit and using the savings to double the state's earned income tax credit for low-income families.

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The administration, citing a state Revenue Department report, has said roughly two-thirds of spending on film production in Massachusetts from 2006-2012 flowed to out-of-state businesses or individuals, including many people who earn more than $1 million per year.

"I know this has been positioned as all these fat cats from Hollywood who are getting rich on this tax credit," said Robert Rosenthal, chairman of the Department of Communications and Journalism at Suffolk University, who was among the educators who joined students in pushing for the tax credit to be retained.

He said many "average working people," including owners of small businesses, benefit when movies are made in Massachusetts.