By Kaitlin Pearson Syracuse N.Y (NCC News) – The GOP tax plan that has passed in the House of Representatives and is now making its way through the Senate contains a provision that, if included in the final version of the tax bill, would remove a tax deduction on the waived tuition that most graduate students receive.
In protest of the tax bill, graduate students on college and university campuses from California to Maine protested today with walkouts all happening in the early afternoon. The issue that most graduate students have with the bill is the deletion of section 117 of the tax code.
Section 117: Excepts qualified tuition reduction from colleges and universities being counted toward calculations or gross income for tax purposes.
In other words, the stipends and aid that graduate students receive at colleges and universities by working as research and teaching assistants was not taxed as livable income. The GOP’s proposed tax bill would eliminate section 117 and subject tuition support to taxation. Meaning Graduate students would be taxed on that aid they received as if they were making that money as an income.
Graduate students have been using social media to voice their disapproval. One student from Columbia wrote out the differences between what she experiences now and what would happen financially if the tax bill were to pass and her results showed that her taxes would raise by over 461%. A graduate student from Princeton shared his concerns with the Washington post which went viral very quickly. Other organizations such as the Tax Policy Center have spoken out saying that this bill would impact graduate students greatly.
Republicans argue that the bill will simplify the tax code and reduce taxes overall. The President has pushed for a vote on the matter by the end of this week.