Sending Office: Honorable Daniel Lipinski
This letter has been endorsed by the American Chemical Society. Current cosigners (7): Lipinski, McNerney, Foster, Beyer, Capuano, Murphy, Shea-Porter.
As you’re probably aware, H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act contains a provision that would make graduate students’ tuition waivers taxable income (Sec. 1204). These tuition waivers are money the students never see, they represent tuition forgiveness the
students receive in exchange for working as teaching or research assistants. The actual monetary stipends these students receive are very low (55% of graduate students nationwide have an adjusted gross income of $20,000 or less), and most cannot afford a big
increase in their tax bill.
The effect of making tuition waivers taxable would be to make graduate school unaffordable for many students, which will drive down attendance, harm our scientific, engineering, and research establishment, and cause us to lose ground to foreign competitors.
Setbacks to our research establishment will in turn harm the economy, which relies on knowledge generated in our research universities turning into products, services, and job-creating companies.
Please support research, education, and the innovation economy by signing onto this letter today. This letter is open to members of both parties and will close at noon tomorrow, Friday, December 8. To sign on, please contact Joel Creswell in my office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Congressman Daniel W. Lipinski
Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan, Leader Schumer, Leader Pelosi, Chairman Hatch, Chairman Brady, Ranking Member Wyden, and Ranking Member Neal:
We the undersigned write to express our grave concern with a provision in H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, that would result in a significant tax increase on graduate students. The House bill would eliminate the exclusion of “qualified tuition reductions”
from taxable income. The effect would be to tax the value of tuition waivers that graduate students receive in exchange for serving as teaching or research assistants during their course of study. Tuition waivers are money that students never see, and by including
it in their taxable income, some could see their tax bills double or worse., For example, the University of Illinois estimates that its
graduate students receiving tuition waivers would see their taxable income increase by $19,000 on average. With 55% of graduate students nationwide earning an adjusted gross income of $20,000 or less,
and 87% earning $50,000 or less, they cannot afford a major increase in their tax burden. In the words of one student, “that would push us to the poverty line.”
As you know, the United States is one of the most innovative countries in the world, thanks in no small part to our top-notch graduate education system. American graduate students go on to become top scientists, engineers, researchers, and leaders, and they
generate many of the innovations that drive our economy. If this provision becomes law, the effect will be to make graduate school unaffordable for thousands of students, with dire consequences for our knowledge-driven economy.
We hold a variety of different views on this tax reform legislation, but we all agree that limiting access to graduate education is not the way to grow the economy and create jobs. We urge you to remove the provision taxing graduate school tuition waivers
from the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0