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University of Hawaiʻi President and UH Mānoa Interim Chancellor David Lassner sent an email to the Mānoa campus on December 1 outlining concerns many students have related to the tax reform bill making its way through Congress.

Concerns about current tax reform efforts

Aloha

Many of you have reached out to me to express concern about various provisions of the tax reform bills in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, particularly the impacts on graduate students. I absolutely share your concerns, and here’s a quick update.

In mid-November I met face-to-face with all four members of our congressional delegation, and tax reform was the first item I raised. All of our delegation will do what they can to help.

I also met with leaders of our higher education associations. They are all communicating directly with Congress and are mobilizing advocacy from within all states to oppose the provisions that would be especially damaging to higher education students and institutions. Among the provisions in the current House and/or Senate Bills with negative impact on higher education are:

  • Making graduate assistant tuition waivers taxable.
  • Negative changes to tax deductibility and tax credits associated with certain student loan programs.
  • Increasing the standard deduction in a way that would reduce charitable giving nationwide, including to universities.
  • Eliminating certain tax-exempt bond options that have been available for major university projects.
  • Making more university activities taxable.
  • Eliminating the deduction for State and Local Taxes, which will make it harder for states to support public higher education.

Many higher education associations and media outlets have published more detailed analyses and advocacy letters, such as the recent example from the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (PDF).

If you are concerned, I encourage you to reach out directly and immediately, especially through any channels you have available to Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate. Sharing your own personal stories of impact will be most effective.

David Lassner
UH President and UH Mānoa Interim Chancellor

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