From the Desk of the SGA President: Why I Opposed the House Tax Bill

As the President of the Frostburg State University (FSU) Student Government Association (SGA), one of my roles is to represent the students of FSU on the University System of Maryland Student Council (USMSC).  The USMSC is an advisory body comprised of SGA leaders from across the state of Maryland that advocate for the students at our respective institutions to the USM Chancellor and Board of Regents, and to Maryland’s elected leaders.

On Sunday, Dec. 3, I joined my fellow SGA presidents in voting to oppose the many provisions of H.R. 1, the House of Representative’s version of the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill, that will be harmful to institutions of higher education and their students.  By voting for the USMSC resolution to oppose this bill, I took a stand against proposed public policy that I believe will be bad for the students I was elected to represent.

Regardless of your political affiliation or what you think broadly about the Republic tax plan, it is impossible to ignore that a number of provisions of the House bill pose significant threats to programs designed to combat the rapidly rising cost of college in the United States.  Most seriously, the House plan would eliminate section 117(d), a provision in the current tax law that allows graduate programs to reduce the cost of tuition for graduate students working as graduate assistants.  The elimination of this provision would mean that graduate students would be taxed on the amount of their tuition remission as if it were income, although it is essentially a discount extended by universities. Currently, these graduate assistants pay income tax on the meager income they actually receive for their campus jobs, but taxing their tuition remission would mean they could be taxed on tens of thousands of dollars that they never receive directly.

In addition, the House plan poses a threat to income tax deductions that allow taxpayers to deduct student loan interest payments when filing taxes.  As more and more university students are forced to take increasingly high student loans, reducing the burden of student loans should be a priority.  As an elected representative of Frostburg State University students, I believe that both of these current provisions in our tax law are critical to supporting students here and across the state that struggle to afford college. Because of this, I chose to support the resolution opposing these provisions of the House Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill. As your SGA President, it is always my goal to do what is best as an advocate for the students of our great university.

 

Sincerely,

James Kirk

SGA President

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