Statement from the Hertz Foundation President on the Tax Cut & Jobs Act Conference

December 2, 2017

"We are deeply disappointed the House and now the Senate have passed tax bills that will likely drive up the cost of higher education for our students and threaten the charitable giving that makes important research – and so many other things – possible in our country. America’s economy and global leadership position in science and technical innovation will suffer if key provisions are not removed as the House and Senate aim to reconcile the differences between each version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the coming weeks.

Both the House and Senate bills drastically increase the standard deduction, which, as written, discourages the charitable giving that colleges, universities, and many non-profit organizations, including the Hertz Foundation, depend on. Less charitable giving means less financial aid for students and less funding for the invaluable research that moves this country forward and improves – and in some cases saves – lives.

There are two additional provisions in the House bill that take direct aim at students: The elimination of the Student Loan Interest Deduction and the taxation of tuition waivers that are granted to PhD students in exchange for work on campus in the form of teaching and research. These provisions will significantly increase the tax burden on graduate students, sometimes by thousands of dollars, creating a financial burden that will prohibit many of our brightest students from pursuing graduate studies, essentially halting the careers of our future innovators before they even begin.

There is still time to address and improve the tax bill before our leaders institute changes that will have severely negative and lasting consequences on the accessibility of education and the quality of American life for decades to come.

I ask that everyone contact their members of Congress immediately and urge the following actions be taken:

1.       Include the increase in the standard deduction only if Senator Lankford’s Charitable Giving Amendment is included;

2.       Eliminate the taxation of tuition waivers;

3.       Maintain the current Student Loan Interest Deduction.

This message is not meant as siding with one political party over another. Rather, it is to ask you to encourage our leaders to develop tax reform that: a.) stimulates the continuation of the doctoral education that is so vital to building a pipeline of talented American leaders in science and innovation; and b.) fosters a vital and growing environment of philanthropy in the U.S., which is quickly replacing government support. Both are severely threatened under the current bills coming out of Congress.  

We must act swiftly and make our voices heard. For the sake of our students. For the sake of our country. For the sake of our future.”

-        Robbee Baker Kosak, president, Fannie and John Hertz Foundation