Grad Students Hold Rally, Phone Bank to Protest Tax Plan

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Around 100 University graduate students were presented with the potential effects of the tax bill during the "Taxed for Tuition" forum.

With Katie Gach's 1-year-old daughter cooing in the background, the University of Colorado Ph.D. student tried to calculate Tuesday morning how much income she would lose if a proposed Republican tax plan overhaul passed in Congress. The addition of tuition waivers to their taxable income would mean students will be taxed at almost double their current rate.

Under a Republican bill passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month, in-state and out-of-state graduate students could see their taxes increase by up to 196 percent and 374 percent, respectively, because the bill treats their waived tuition as taxable income, according to United Auto Workers 2865, which represents graduate student workers in the University of California.

"That tuition price tag at MIT is technically about $50,000, even though students like Oostrom don't have to pay it". For everyone else, such an arrangement would be considered taxable wage income, but this loophole allows graduate students to face a different set of rules.

At the University of Maryland, students said they felt like the tax plan treats them like trash, and they wore garbage bags to a rally.

McCumber thinks UB's administration should condemn the tax bill, even though the university has yet to release a statement on its passage. Though the Senate bill leaves 26 USC §117 intact, it has yet to pass; if it does pass, it is uncertain what the outcome of the conference-committee process to combine the bills would be.

Graduate students participating in a national walkout gathered at Tommy Trojan on Wednesday to protest a provision that would raise taxes on graduate students by nearly 400 percent.

Graduate students also circled the crowd with clipboards and laptops, aiming to get signatures on appropriate petitions.

Science labs on university campuses like where I work are actually sources of income for universities. The question that should guide this kind of conversation is not whether tuition waivers and fellowships constitute income or not, but rather the value we, as a society, assign to knowledge and education in general, and scientific expertise in particular.

The U.S. Senate is now drafting its own version of the tax bill. For more, we're joined from Hilliard, Ohio, by Jenna Freudenburg, a fourth-year graduate student in astronomy at Ohio State University and an organizer with the Save Graduate Education movement, who is joining Heather McGhee in this discussion. To this end, I want to assure IU faculty, graduate students, staff, and other members of the IU community that our government relations team is working tirelessly here in IN and in Washington to help our representatives understand the implications of this legislation. We also urge our elected leaders to preserve the tax benefits of charitable giving.

"It would essentially push graduate programs back to a 19th-century model of higher education in which only the rich could go on to higher education", Brown said. "So doing this is just a mean-spirited attack on higher education".

"We are concerned about not just its impact on the lives of individual graduate students but also on the ability of the university to carry out its teaching and research mission", Lee said. In between speeches, protesters chanted "We are workers" and "Hey, C. Pax, we need your help to fight this tax".

Alise Dabdoub, a first-year doctoral student studying psychology at OU, helped organize the protest. That bill could be up for a vote as soon as this week. They challenged the rights of many of our fellow colleagues to have their voices count in the decision to unionize. So we have a whole wide variety of grassroots actions, and we've chose to band together and hold all of those actions on the same day to send the message, as this bill progresses through Congress, that it would be bad for grad students, awful for higher education, and we strongly oppose it and urge our lawmakers to vote against it. "I hope President Harreld saw the kind of passion we have on this issue, and for the university".

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