Republican tax bill may place additional taxes on grad students

Lawmakers are still trying to work out the final version of the Republican tax reform bill. But a provision in the House version has graduate students worried about finishing out their degrees.

Posted: Dec. 11, 2017 4:15 PM
Updated: Dec. 11, 2017 6:28 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Lawmakers are still trying to work out the final version of the Republican tax reform bill. But a provision in the House version has graduate students worried about finishing out their degrees.

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News 18 spoke with some grad students on Purdue's campus who shared their concerns about the legislation.

According to university officials, the minimum stipend for grad students is a little over $17,000 a year.

Most students we spoke to say they depend on the money to live while they finish their degree.

However, a part of the House tax reform bill would tax that money, causing them economic hardship.

"Grad students are not a well-off population. They're struggling daily. So, it's just an irresponsible move to target them," said Zach Vander Missen.

And the struggle could get worse if a provision of the House tax reform bill is passed.

"If this new policy is implemented, I think we may have to go into debt," said graduate student Chekun Law.

The provision would tax graduate students' stipends and tuition waivers.

Purdue graduate student Zach Vander Missen says it would strain his already tight budget.

"I don't feel like my tuition waiver is part of my paycheck. I do research for the university here and that's just kind of off to the side. So, if I have to start paying taxes on that money, which I never see, it's going to be a financial burden, to say the least," said Missen.

International students would suffer as well.

"It's going to be really difficult for international students because we are not allowed to take on additional part-time jobs or appointments," said Law.

Purdue president Mitch Daniels says it might even discourage people from pursuing a graduate degree.

"It would work a hardship on individual students and present a new challenge to us," said Daniels.

As lawmakers get closer to a resolution, Vander Missen is hoping there's another way to cut taxes without breaking the banks of graduate students.

"There are much bigger numbers moving around in that tax plan that I've seen. So, I'm hopeful that it will be eliminated when the try to combine the House and Senate plan, and there won't be any issue," said Missen.

The goal in Washington is to have the final proposal passed and on President Trump's desk to sign by Dec. 20.

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