College presidents: Tax bill could be ‘damaging’ to students and schools

Idaho’s congressional delegation has unanimously supported a federal tax overhaul.

Idaho’s college and university presidents have banded together to voice their concerns.

In a letter Thursday, the presidents said the tax bill could carry “damaging consequences for Idaho public colleges and universities and the students they serve.” They opposed several pieces of the tax bill:

  • Elimination of the Hope Scholarship, Lifetime Learning Tax Credits and a tax deduction for student loan interest. “These tax incentives are critical to helping make higher education more accessible and affordable for Idahoans,” the presidents wrote.
  • Taxing tuition waivers for employees and students.
  • Limits on building bond options, such as refinancing and tax-exempt private-activity bonds.
  • Increasing the standard tax deduction. “The increase would undoubtedly reduce the number of people who itemize charitable deductions and reduce charitable giving to not‐for‐profit entities such as public colleges and universities.”
  • The Unrelated Business Income Tax, which would require universities to treat campus functions as “unique silos,” instead of using financial gains in one area to offset losses in another.

The letter went to Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Reps. Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson. All four lawmakers have supported versions of the tax bill. A House-Senate conference committee is trying to iron out differences between the two bills, and craft a compromise bill for a final vote.

The letter was signed by Idaho’s eight college and university presidents: Rick Aman, College of Eastern Idaho; Anthony Fernandez, Lewis-Clark State College; Jeff Fox, College of Southern Idaho; Bert Glandon, College of Western Idaho; Bob Kustra, Boise State University; Rick MacLennan, North Idaho College; Chuck Staben, University of Idaho; and Arthur Vailas, Idaho State University. State Board of Education Executive Director Matt Freeman also signed the letter.

 

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