URGENT: Tax bill may slash graduate stipends in USA
kreese at WELCHLINK.WELCH.JHU.EDU
Wed Jul 2 17:19:31 EST 1997
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Please read this carefully, even if you have already heard
about this issue. We apologize for the length, but feel
this is a critical issue, and that graduate students
nationwide need to band together.
***Please forward this Email to your fellow graduate students
and faculty at all US universities as well as to family and
friends who will be supportive of our views, and under-
graduates who may be considering graduate school in the
future. Please help us spread the word in order to keep
your taxes down. It is urgent that this message be heard
across the country by every graduate student*** July 1, 1997
>From the graduate student representative organizations at:
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
As you may know, the "Tax Relief Act" of 1997, passed the U.S.
House of Representatives (H.R. 2014) on Thursday, June 26; a
different version of the bill passed the Senate (S. 949) on
Friday, June 27. The House bill, while providing $135 billion
in tax relief to many Americans, contains a provision which
drastically and detrimentally affects graduate students. A
short clause phases out section 117(d) of the tax code, the
section that excludes the value of tuition waivers or tuition
reductions from taxable income. With the loss of this tuition
tax exclusion, many graduate students will see their taxes
raised by thousands of dollars per year. Examples provided by
the NAGPS (National Association of Graduate-Professional
Students) indicate that some of us may see our after-tax wages
cut by 50% or even more!!
Tuition waivers are used in many graduate programs to assist
students during their often-lengthy education. Most of these
students are obtaining PhDs in academic fields and will go on
to modestly-paying university positions, possibly after long
post-doctoral research. They serve as teaching assistants or
research assistants in return for not paying tuition, which can
easily exceed $20,000 per year at private institutions. Under
the House version of the bill, the value of this tuition waiver
would be considered taxable income.
Although the House version of this bill is a disaster for
graduate students, the Senate version does not include the
repeal of section 117(d) of the tax code. Because of this
and many other differences in the House and Senate versions
of the bill, both houses of Congress (as well as the White
House) will convene to reconcile the two versions of the bill
following the July 4th recess. At that point, the bill will
be voted on for final passage, and signed into law. Our last
chance to defeat the House bill is through this House-Senate
Committee, which is expected to begin meeting the week of
If you have not heard of this issue, contained within the
highly publicized "Tax Relief Act," it is because this act is
enormous, containing tax issues involving cigarettes,
capital gains, and the $500 per child tax credit, to name just
a few. It is these other issues which have gained the media's
attention, and few people seem to be aware of the impending
disaster for graduate students, higher education, and
university and research budgets. **It is our responsibility
to ensure that our opinions are voiced and that this issue
gains national attention.
For more background on this situation, see one of the
following web sites:
What you can do:
1. Please forward this Email to all graduate students you know
at other institutions, as well as your family, your
friends, and any undergraduates you know who plan to go
to graduate school in the future. (Maybe media also!)
Convince them to take action.
2. Distribute this information to fellow students, faculty,
department and graduate program directors, and
administrators within your own institution. Organize a
campus-wide response through your local graduate student
representative group. Be sure that your administration
is on top of this issue and is taking immediate action.
3. Call (or fax or email) your Senators and Representative!
It is critical that your voice be heard by your own members
of Congress. Shear numbers of calls will make an impact.
4. Make a special effort to swamp the members of the Conference
Committee with calls, as they will make the ultimate
decision in reconciling the bills. If you are
represented by one of these Senators or know someone who
is (DE/MS/NY/NM/IA/OK/NJ/ND), make sure contact is made!
How to contact your Senators and Representatives:
House/Senate switchboard: 800-962-3524 or 800-972-3524
or House: 202-225-3121 Senate: 202-224-3121
Or check <http://congress.org> for addresses, direct phone
number, district office number, email and more information.
The following senators are members of the Conference Committee
which will be composing the final version of the bill. These are
critical people to target, especially if you live or go to school
in DE, MS, NY, NM, IA, OK, NJ or ND.
Roth (R-DE), Lott (R-MS), Moynihan (D-NY),
Domenici (R-NM), Grassley (R-IA), Nickles (R-OK),
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Conrad (D-ND)
House Conference Committee members will not be announced until
July 7th or 8th.
Congress is now on Independence Day recess (through July 7th)
and most members will be in their home districts. Use this
opportunity to meet with them personally to discuss your concerns.
What to say in your calls and letters:
Please be polite and courteous, but let them know that you oppose
the loss of section 117(d), the tuition tax waiver for graduate
students. This waiver is retained in the Senate version (S. 949)
of the Tax Relief Act but eliminated in the House version
(H.R. 2014). Be sure to mention that you are concerned that this
issue be carefully considered at the meeting of the Joint House-
Senate Conference Committee to reconcile the two versions of the
Tax Relief Act. Explain to them your concerns for higher
education and for research should the tuition tax waiver be lost.
Here are some specific points to mention:
- how this tax increase will impact your financial status
(have numbers to illustrate your point)
- how top students will opt to not pursue graduate degrees,
threatening America's continued leadership in research
- how graduate students will leave graduate school
- how losing qualified students in your field will impact the US
(e.g., biology: cancer and HIV/AIDS research
engineering/physics: national defense)
- how this tax will increase costs to universities, leading to
an increase in undergraduate tuition
- for more specifics, see NAGPS Talking Points:
WRITE, PHONE, and FAX these issues to your representatives
immediately. The more they are aware that there is real and dire
concern over this issue, the more likely that this issue will be
removed in the House-Senate Conference Committee.
Thanks for your action!
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Graduate Student Association
gsa-g at welchlink.welch.jhu.edu
Harvard University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Graduate School Council
gsc at hcs.harvard.edu
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Graduate Student Council
Graduate Student Council
gsc at assu.stanford.edu
More information about the Celegans