As many of us CGEers are aware, there is a pending tax bill in Congress that will make graduate employees poorer by considering tuition waivers “taxable income.” In essence this will mean that as a graduate employee making roughly under $20k a year you will be paying taxes as though you are a person with an income nearly double that amount a year. On average, an OSU Graduate Employee will be paying an additional $1,000 a year in taxes. This is only one aspect of the current tax bill that will negatively impact higher education and employees within higher ed.
There are many resources floating around online and across social media currently, so CGE has consolidated some of these resources for our members use below. This is not an exhaustive list, and if you are aware of additional resources that should be included in this list please leave a comment on this post. The following list also includes scripts for OSU faculty who will be negatively impacted by the pending tax bill as well.
Updated Resources/Talking Points as of 11/30/17:
- Tax waiver provision is not currently in the Senate bill, however in your conversations we need to make clear that it is still necessary to pressure Senators not to include these provisions and keep them out of the final bill.
- Items of concern include elimination of —
- Section 117(d) (Which allows tuition waivers to be non-taxed)
- Section 127 (Which allows employer paid education assistance to be tax free to employer)
- Student Loan Interest Deduction
- American Opportunity Tax Credit
- Lifetime Learning Tax Credit
- An awesome, all-inclusive resource on what to do: https://www.ams.org/policy/government/advocacy/ActionAlert.TaxReform.Nov17.pdf
4. A great, non-partisan summary of the bills’ details:
5.While Representative DeFazio and Senators Wyden, Merkley are on board, we can still deliver detailed accounts of who we are, how we would be impacted & why this matters. Meanwhile, if anyone is registered in the 2nd Congressional District (anywhere East of the Cascades), they should definitely be contacting Representative Walden, who is Republican and needs to be hearing who we are and why we matter (aka what does our research accomplish for him & his constituents? — ag, rangeland, plant pathology!! etc.). Find your reps/districts: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/
6. Further, for folks registered outside OR, these are the crucial states for whom their Republican Senator is part of the Senate Finance Committee:
- UT – Senator Hatch (801) 524-4380
- IA – Senator Grassley (515) 288-1145
- ID – Senator Crapo (208) 334-1776
- KS – Senator Roberts – (913) 451-9343
- WY – Senator Enzi – (307) 722-2477
- TX – Senator Cornyn – (512) 469-6034
- SD – Senator Thune (605) 334-9596
- NC – Senator Burr (800) 685-8916
- GA – Senator Isakson (770) 661-0999
- OH – Senator Portman (614) 469-6774
- PA – Senator Toomey (717) 782-3591
- NV – Senator Heller (702) 388-6605
- SC – Senator Scott (803) 771-6112
- LA – Senator Cassidy (225) 929-7711
And Letters-to-the-editor in these States are helpful!
Articles on Tax Bill
Excellent article by OSU’s Professor of WGSS, Susan Shaw, on the impact this bill will have on her students at OSU:
Tax estimation Tool
This is an online tool which will allow you to see what additional costs in taxes you can expect with the implementation of the current bill in the House.
Sample Script for OSU Professors
Hello, my name is [your name].
I am a [your position] in [your department] at Oregon State University, and I’m calling you today to speak to [your representative] about how the proposed tax reform bill – the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” – will affect my university and higher education in this country.
Specifically, the proposed bill repeals Section 117(d) of the Tax Code, which allows universities to provide tax-free tuition waivers for undergraduate study by university employees, spouses, and dependents as well as tax-free tuition waivers for graduate students employed as teaching and research assistants.
Repealing Section 117(d) establishes a new Tuition Tax that will negatively impact graduate students and the universities where they study.
First, the Tuition Tax will leave many graduate students unable to survive on their already modest stipends. The average graduate student stipend for a student in [your department] at OSU is [dollar amount specific to your department- use the tax estimation tool above if needed]. When combined with the annual tuition waiver of [dollar amount specific to your department], a typical student will be required to pay an extra [dollar amount specific to your department] a year in taxes without any corresponding increase in real income. This tax increase is [percentage specific to your department] of their annual income and is roughly equivalent to three months rent for a typical OSU grad student.
Second, the Tuition Tax will drive many talented students away from graduate study. The financial burdens of the Tuition Tax will be too much to bear for all but the most privileged students. As a result, the Tuition Tax will make higher education even more inaccessible to talented people and limit the pool of smart, passionate grad students on which our universities rely.
I strongly urge you to vote against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and I ask you to compel your colleagues to do the same.
[your position, department]
Oregon State University
Sample Student Script
Dear Members of Congress,
As a [put your position in higher ed- ex. a graduate student worker at OSU], I oppose H.R. 1, the so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, better known as the Republican Tax Bill. If approved, the proposed tax code changes would result in a number of harmful consequences for students and their families, making higher education increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible. These proposed policy changes include, but are not limited to:
Eliminating the deduction for qualified tuition waivers and related expenses. The proposed tax bill would treat tuition and fee waivers as taxable income, thereby increasing taxes on student-workers in both public and private universities by thousands of dollars per year.
Eliminating the Student Loan Interest Deduction. Currently income-qualified individuals can deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest. The proposed tax bill would eliminate this deduction.
Repealing the Lifetime Learning Credit and other educational benefits. These credits can be used to offset 20% of the first $10,000 of qualified education expenses each year. The proposed tax bill would eliminate these educational incentives and benefits.
Affordable, accessible education is fundamental to a functioning democratic society, but H.R. 1 is a step backwards for the U.S. higher education system. These proposed changes in H.R. 1, along with other sections of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, are likely to hurt university enrollment and reduce the pool of highly educated and well-trained workers to meet rapidly evolving research and development needs. These tax code changes exacerbate barriers that working class students and students of color already face in accessing higher education. For these reasons, I propose the following:
The U.S. Congress and each of its members should reject H.R. 1 and begin working on changes to the tax code that support participation in higher education and student-worker employment in teaching and research.
All public and private university systems and institutions of higher education should immediately take a public stand in support of students and student-workers by opposing H.R. 1 and actively lobbying against it.
The U.S. Congress should work with universities, students, and unions representing higher education workers to develop and implement policies that fully fund higher education.
Oregon State University,
Members of CGE created these templates for you to write a postcard to send to your Congressperson or other elected officials.
Automated calling apps
These apps help you to write or call your representatives in under 2 minutes.
This is a general resources web page which can help guide you in writing a letter to your congressperson or issuing a press release.
Twitter Page for #GradTaxWalkout
These are links to resources regarding a planned national day of action against the tax bill. These websites also include a lot of good information/resources on ways to protest the bill. On Wednesday, Nov. 29 from 10:00-1:00 CGE will have a resource booth in the SEC Plaza where folks will be able to write postcards, gain additional information, and get plugged in to the national walkout.