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Internship Tax Credit Program Passes Senate Committee

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Businesses could get an extra incentive to hire more interns through a proposal  being heard in Florida’s legislature.  The “Internship Tax Credit Program,” would reward up to $2,000 in tax credits for each intern an employer hires. 

The tax credits would only be awarded if businesses meet conditions. Interns have to be students at a state university or equivalent secondary education institution with a 2.0 GPA, and have to be interning full-time for at least nine weeks. Businesses must have a history of offering internships and employing former interns who’ve graduated.

“The whole reason behind it is to try to incentivize companies to hire and pay their interns, and I think that’s important," says Rep. Dan Daley (D-Sunrise), the bill's sponsor. "That student gets real-life experience in a company that they may not otherwise have that opportunity if they can’t afford an unpaid internship." 

The South Florida Democrat says he’s open to amending the bill to include options based on semester.

"You could work over a longer period of time, let’s say a summer break with a shorter hourly requirement, or during a semester over a more condensed amount of time with more hours required,” he explains.

The bill does not explicitly say only businesses who pay their interns will receive tax credits, an issue intern advocates say flies counter to an ongoing national movement to encourage paid internships.

"For me, I think there’s enough internships in my field. The issue is that a lot of them aren’t paid," says Maria Iglesias, an Editing, Writing and Media major at Florida State University. She interns at the school's Dunlap Career Center and says for working students like herself, unpaid internships can be a financial strain.

"I work a part-time job and I have an internship right now, and I used to have two internships but I was like, I can’t do this anymore. Yeah, it would be great if the government would reward them for that.”

Guillermo Creamer, co-founder of Pay Our Interns, an activist organization that advocates for policies that encourage paid internships in the public and private sectors, says the bill’s existing requirements for businesses, like the hiring of former interns, are a good idea -- but intern pay is still essential.

"If we’re looking at a bill that’s incentivizing employers, at the very least, the requirement should include pay," Creamer says. "We know that at the end of the day, internships are the entry of the workforce pipeline. So if you’re offering paid internships in this case, you’re ensuring that that entry point is equitable.”

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate Education committee on Monday. 

Victoria is from Orlando, but spent her childhood in San Antonio, Texas and outside the D.C. area. She is currently a junior at Florid State University studying Communications and minoring in Political Science. Before coming to WFSU, Victoria was a staff writer at the FSView and a volunteer at the campus radio station WVFS. When she’s not at school or writing, Victoria enjoys baking, watching documentaries and playing video games to de-stress.