Normally I don’t use this platform for politics. But it’s a platform, and presumably you’re following me here because you (1) like to read and (2) want authors to keep writing books. If that’s the case, please scroll down! If not… as you were.
Here are a few photos from the #SaveGradEd rally at UMD today. If you haven’t been paying close attention to it–and a lot of people haven’t, what with the big distraction of Thanksgiving–the proposed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act going to vote in the Senate this week will mean financial disaster for grad students–and pretty much anybody who isn’t already disgustingly wealthy.
To make it simple: among other economic atrocities, this tax reform repeals section 117(d) of the existing tax code, which stipulates that graduate tuition remission is not taxable income. If this bill becomes law without some significant changes, graduate students–who teach undergraduates and usually don’t make more than about $20,000 annually for that work–will have their tuition remission, which might be anywhere up to $40,000+ a semester if they’re at a private school, taxed as income. This means a possible 300-400% increase in the taxes they currently pay.
Here’s the kicker: we never see a penny of that money. It’s not income, and taxing it as such will make it impossible for many graduate students to continue their education. (And personally, I know I won’t be writing much if I’m worrying about how I’m going to make up for a sudden tripling of my taxes.) Of course, writers and grad students aren’t the only ones who lose, here. Everybody loses with this bill, except big business and billionaires.
So here’s my humble bid: if you care about the poor, the middle class, education, small businesses, self-employed artists (like authors), or just not making the rich richer at everyone else’s expense, call your reps! The Senate starts voting on this bill tomorrow, and the louder we are, the better chance we have of being heard. If you want to learn a little more about why this bill is awful click here. If you’re in the D. C. area and you want to take part in protests this week, click here. I’ll be around so if you see me, come commiserate.
Thanks for your time.