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ACE, Higher Education Community Launch Contact Congress Initiative for Tax Bill

November 08, 2017

Write Lawmakers About Devastating Proposals to Raise the Cost of College for Students, Families; Charitable Giving Also Threatened

As the House and Senate work on tax reform legislation, campus leaders, students, faculty, and others can write lawmakers about specific provisions in the bills that would set back by decades the effort to make college more affordable for students and families.

The Tax Reform and Higher Education webpage on the ACE website that is serving as the higher education community hub for tax legislation advocacy efforts includes a “Contact Congress” feature. It allows individuals to easily send letters about different provisions in the bill—from the repeal of the Lifetime Learning Credit, student loan interest deduction, and tuition waivers particularly harmful to graduate students—to their members of Congress in the House and Senate.

There are Contact Congress letters in four areas: Charitable Giving and Endowments; Students and FamiliesCampus Employees; and Higher Education Finance.

According to the summary of the legislation provided by the House Committee on Ways and Means, the House bill—known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—would increase the cost to students of attending college by more than $65 billion between 2018 and 2027. 

As ACE President Ted Mitchell wrote in an op-ed published Monday by The Washington Post, in addition to proposing to tax some private college and university endowment earnings, restricting access to the tax-exempt bond market, and reducing incentives for charitable giving—all of which will have a far-reaching negative impact on higher education—the bill eliminates a set of longstanding provisions designed to help a wide range of middle- and lower-income Americans finance a college education.

For instance, the House bill would repeal the current student loan interest deduction. In 2014, 12 million taxpayers benefited from this deduction, and repealing it would increase the cost for borrowers by roughly $24 billion total over the next decade. The House bill also includes a repeal of two important provisions meant to exclude tuition waivers and tuition exemptions from income for campus employees and graduate students, among other things. According to the most recent Department of Education data, 145 thousand graduate students benefited from the tuition waiver, 60 percent enrolled in STEM fields. 

And when it comes to the issue of charitable giving, New York Times reporter Jim Tankersley has tweeted that a Joint Committee on Taxation​ analysis “predicts charitable deductions will fall by $95b --40%--next year under House tax bill. (Obvs deductions do not equal total charitable giving.)”

The House Committee on Ways and Means could vote on the House tax bill as early as Thursday, and the Senate appears poised to unveil its version of the legislation the same day.​

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