Several dozen House Republicans are suddenly thinking better of taxing graduate students on the tuition waver (i.e. not actual income) they get for teaching classes while they pursue their degree. It seems GOP lawmakers are waking up to the fact that taxing a grad student who on average makes about $36,000 per year on, in some cases, fully double that amount isn’t exactly fair. It also won’t encourage people to get advanced degrees at a time when skilled labor is in short supply in this country. Mother Jones writes:
In a letter to their party’s leaders in the House and Senate, 31 Republican House members criticized a provision in their chamber’s tax plan that imposes an income tax on graduate students’ tuition waivers, which give free or discounted enrollment to students who teach or perform research as part of their degree programs.
“A tax on graduate tuition waivers would be unfair, would undermine our competitive position, and would inhibit the economic growth that tax reform promises,” the letter states. It further notes that the policy undermines the goals of tax reform—“to fuel economic growth, create jobs, and raise wages”—contending that a well-educated workforce is necessary to do so.
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) led the effort, following office visits with graduate students and schools in his district who came to Washington to voice their concerns.
Guess it never occurred to them without prompting that everything about that provision stinks. Naturally, all Sessions’ co-signers voted for the bill. Their letter says they “strongly urge” a change, but no word whether they would vote against the bill over the issue.
Of course they wouldn’t; they need this big “win” for GOP donors too much to worry about the effect on the economy or anyone who isn’t a one percenter.