As you may already know the United States Congress is in the process of passing a bill called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. One version of this bill under consideration and passed by the US House of Representatives contains provisions harmful to graduate students across the country. Most notably, the House version of the bill makes tuition waivers, paid by the university to the university for many graduate students at Rutgers, into taxable income. A second version of the bill, passed by the US Senate, does not include this provision.
Right now, the House and Senate have begun a conference committee to reconcile the two versions of the bill. Once a bill has been agreed upon, the bill will go back to the House of Representatives and to the Senate for a yes or no vote, without the possibility for amendment. This conference committee is expected to conclude as early as this week. There is a strong possibility that whatever bill leaves the conference committee will become law, which means it is of the utmost importance for graduate students that we push congress and the conference committee to remove the tuition waiver tax during the reconciliation process.
What you can do to help:
1. You can join the Graduate Student Association and Rutgers AAUT-AFT TA/GA Union for a rally opposing the tuition waiver tax this Wednesday. Full details of the rally and how to RSVP are located here.
2. You can contact your representatives in Congress, by calling, by their websites, or by social media to urge them to remove the tuition waiver tax. Call and social media scripts are available below.
3. You can urge your family members, friends, and other supporters of graduate education to contact their representatives in Congress to urge them to remove the tuition waiver tax. Call and social media scripts for them are available below.
<4. You can contact members of the conference committee specifically to urge them to remove the tuition waiver tax. Information on committee members and how to contact them is available below.
The National Association for Graduate-Professional Students has prepared call scripts and sample social media posts for use in advocating against the tuition waiver tax. Additionally the American Council on Education has prepared a form letter that will automatically be sent to congress people when you submit.
American Council on Education Emails
Charitable Giving and Endowments: the draft letter focuses on the proposed excise tax on endowments at certain private colleges and universities (https://www2.acenet.edu/actioncenter/?vvsrc=%2fcampaigns%2f55194%2frespond)
Students and Families: the draft letter focuses on the repeal of LLC and SLID for current students and graduates, and the loss of Sec. 117 (d)(5) for graduate students (this is the provision that taxes PhD students on their tuition remission) (https://www2.acenet.edu/actioncenter/?vvsrc=%2fcampaigns%2f55189%2frespond)
Campus Employees: the draft letter focuses on the repeal of Sec. 117 (d) and Sec. 127 for campus employees (https://www2.acenet.edu/actioncenter/?vvsrc=%2fcampaigns%2f55192%2frespond)
Higher Ed Finance: the draft letter focuses on the loss of tax exempt bonds in H.R. 1 (http://www.acenet.edu/Pages/Higher-Education-and-Tax-Reform.aspx#tabContent-7)
Individual Members of Congress and How to Contact Them:
What to Say: