On December 13, leaders in Congress announced that they had reached a final deal regarding tax reform legislation. The compromise is reportedly more similar to the bill passed by the Senate than the legislation crafted by the House.
Notably, the compromise purportedly retains the existing tax break for charitable deductions. However, since the standard deduction will be raised to $24,000 for couples and $12,000 for individuals, millions fewer taxpayers will be able to claim the deduction. Some non-profits have raised concerns about impacts to future charitable giving.
Another provision that would have taxed tuition waivers for graduate students does not appear in the final bill.
Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) and thirty other lawmakers had sent a letter to House leadership urging them to keep existing tax policies in place regarding tuition waivers for graduate students.
The tax reform bill passed by the House of Representatives, H.R. 1, would have increased taxes for many graduate students because tuition waivers would be taxed as income, even though students do not directly receive the money.
As the letter from lawmakers points out, 57 percent of waiver recipients are graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and math.
“A repeal of the income exclusion for graduate tuition waivers would harm our nation’s students, undermine our competitive position, and hold back economic growth,” states the letter. “We strongly urge you to ensure that this harmful provision is not in the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”
The compromise legislation must pass the Senate and House of Representatives before going to the President’s desk for a signature.