Senate tax bill proposes higher ed changes
- The U.S. Senate passed tax reform legislation along party lines early Saturday, with several significant differences from the House bill passed Nov. 16 pertaining to higher education. One amendment stipulates that individuals can deduct only up to $10,000 on state and local property taxes, which colleges and universities worry will stop donors from making sizable gifts to schools, according to Inside Higher Ed.
- The House bill repealed the tax deduction on student loan interest and instituted a tax on tuition waivers as income (the waivers help graduate students enroll tuition-free), but both of these provisions are missing in the Senate version of the bill, according to the Washington Post.
- The Senate bill included a 1.4% excise tax on private colleges with the largest endowments, though the Senate version was capped at endowments that exceed $500,000 per full-time student, in contrast with the House version, which taxed each institution with an endowment value higher than $250,000 per student.
Tax reform is the top priority for this Congress and President Trump, and with the party in serious need of a legislative victory before the recess, this legislation is on the fast-track to completion. This means there isn't much time for campus GR teams — aided by alumni and the president him- or herself — to reach out to representatives to express concerns about the bill's impact on higher ed.
Many national higher ed advocacy organizations have already come out in opposition to the legislation, saying the proposed changes to deductions and a proposed tax on endowments will undermine affordability and access to higher education. In addition to concerns about the impact the bill will have on giving, graduate students are concerned that the proposed tuition wavier charge in the House bill could make it more difficult to afford their education, and higher ed administrators should also be worried about how this may impact graduate enrollment.
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