Professors Weigh In On Tax Bill

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Well, that didn’t take long. “Last​ ​week,​ ​the​ ​House​ ​of​ ​Representatives​ ​passed​ ​the​ ​Tax​ ​Cuts​ ​and​ ​Jobs​ ​Act​ ​(H.R.​ ​1), repealing​ ​a​ ​key​ ​provision​ ​that,​ ​if​ ​signed​ ​into​ ​law,​ ​will​ ​have​ ​consequences​ ​for​ ​graduate students​ ​across​ ​the​ ​nation,” the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) claims.​ ​​”​In​ ​reclassifying​ ​graduate​ ​school​ ​tuition​ ​waivers​ ​as​ ​taxable income,​ ​Congress​ ​has​ ​placed​ ​graduate​ ​students​ ​in​ ​financial​ ​jeopardy,​ ​threatening​ ​long-term negative​ ​effects​ ​on​ ​our​ ​country’s​ ​scientific​ ​enterprise.”

“​According​ ​to​ ​the​ ​​US​ ​Department​ ​of Education​’s​ ​most​ ​recent​ ​data,​ ​145,000​ ​graduate​ ​students​ ​receive​ ​this​ ​tax​ ​waiver​ ​annually, 70​ ​percent​​ ​of​ ​whom​ ​are​ ​enrolled​ ​in​ ​programs​ ​in​ ​the​ ​natural,​ ​applied,​ ​and​ ​social​ ​sciences; technology;​ ​engineering;​ ​or​ ​mathematics.” Note that this billing gives sociologists a higher place in the academic caste system than engineers.

“​The​ ​repeal​ ​of​ ​section​ ​117(d)(5)​ ​of​ ​the​ ​existing​ ​tax code​ ​will​ ​have​ ​far-reaching​ ​consequences​ ​on​ ​scientific​ ​research,” the AAUP asserts. “Graduate​ ​students​ ​are​ ​not​ ​only​ ​future​ ​innovators:​ ​their​ ​work​ ​is​ ​vital​ ​in​ ​driving​ ​current scientific​ ​knowledge​ ​at​ ​research​ ​universities​ ​and​ ​institutions​ ​around​ ​the​ ​country.​ ​Their experiments,​ ​research​ ​papers,​ ​and​ ​lab​ ​and​ ​field​ ​activities​ ​help​ ​move​ ​scientific​ ​knowledge forward,​ ​boost​ ​the​ ​economy,​ ​and​ ​provide​ ​the​ ​scientific​ ​backbone​ ​behind​ ​research​ ​that protects​ ​our​ ​health,​ ​environment,​ ​and​ ​communities.​ ​Graduate​ ​students​ ​are​ ​also​ ​an​ ​essential teaching​ ​corps​ ​of​ ​the​ ​American​ ​college​ ​system.” This last is a tacit admission that they are the actual teachers in academe but sets up the question–what are the tenured cadre doing?