From The Winston Salem Journal: Tax bill would hurt graduate students like me

From The Winston Salem Journal: Tax bill would hurt graduate students like me

The tax reform bill currently being considered by the Senate is going to hit graduate students hard.  By removing student loan interest deductions, and by making waived tuitions taxable income many students face having to quit their studies all together as the tax burden is so high it would make it impossible for them continue.  Meanwhile, this bill does nothing to close corporate tax loopholes and adds huge tax giveaways to the wealthy.  Taxing our struggling graduate students while at the same time giving deductions for corporate jets is wrong. This bill does not help working families, it helps the rich get richer.

From The Winston Salem Journal:
Chris Register\Guest columnist

Most of North Carolina’s representatives voted in favor of the tax bill put before the House on Nov. 16, including our own Virginia Foxx. I dreaded the news, since this tax bill would ruin my fledgling career.

I grew up in Clemmons West and graduated from West Forsyth High School in 2011. I attended our excellent state school in Chapel Hill, where I graduated summa cum laude in 2015. After tutoring UNC athletes in math for a year, I was accepted to Princeton University for a PhD pro-gram in philosophy. I cried on the steps of Caldwell Hall when I told my (now) fiancé that I had gotten into my dream school.

Now I am earning a stipend in exchange for teaching undergraduates at Princeton University. As part of my contract, the university waives a $48,000-annual tuition bill. About 145,000 other graduate students across the country have similar relationships with their institutions.

Virginia Foxx wants me and my fellow graduate students to pay taxes on waived tuition. I would have to foot more than $10,000 in taxes for the next fiscal year — about a third of my stipend. I would be in the same effective tax bracket as people who make $900,000 a year. Since rent would take most of what’s left, I’d have to discontinue my studies at Princeton.

Meanwhile, the bill does nothing to close numerous loopholes exploited by millionaires and corporations around the country. Has the bill been crafted by critical thinking and the general inter-est, or has it been shaped by wealthy interest groups and a perverted political agenda?

Consider another change in the tax code proposed by this same bill: low and middle-range earners, who are now able to deduct the interest paid on their student loans, would no longer be able to do so.

The hundreds and even thousands of dollars that are at stake for low and middle-range earners in these lines of the tax code are an investment in our future. More and more, higher education is required to succeed in the modern world. More and more, an expensive graduate degree and many years of study are required before someone can carry out innovative research. More and more, highly trained educators are necessary to prepare the next generation.

And yet, less and less do our politicians seem to care about these facts. Less and less does it seem like they even hear our voices.

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Eleanore Wood

Digital Director

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