Home Campus OPINION: Trump’s tax bill will hurt Ohio U students

OPINION: Trump’s tax bill will hurt Ohio U students

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A tax plan was passed the U.S. House of Representatives last month, and opinion writer Tim Zelina writes it would be bad for America, but especially bad for college students.

President Donald J. Trump is on track to receive his first major policy win since the Supreme Court upheld his travel ban. After an embarrassing failure in healthcare, and an unending torrent of scandals, resignations and criminal allegations surrounding Trump, the White House is desperate for a political win to boost its chances in the 2018 mid-term election. Tax reform has emerged as the perfect platform for Republicans to show that they have not wasted the narrow win that they edged out in 2016.

Due to the pragmatic necessity of passing a major reform prior to midterms, countless Republicans have been forced to play by the rules, begrudgingly agreeing to a tax reform that many have yet to even read. This is ostensibly because of pressure from the RNC leadership, who could at any time cut a legislator’s national funding for their re-election campaign. McConnell and Ryan certainly know that now is the time to go nuclear on any dissenters.

Unfortunately, if Republicans achieve their victory by passing and signing this bill, most of America will lose. However, few people will be hurt as badly as college students; graduate students, in particular. Rather than close loopholes that allow millionaires and billionaires to stash their money overseas and abuse tax reductions, the GOP has made it priority numero uno to give those billionaires big breaks; this has forced them to make up for the 1.5 trillion addition to the deficit this bill creates by squeezing all the income they can get out of the viciously poor.

It cannot be understated that this bill is a tax break for billionaires, while also at the expense of some of the most financially vulnerable Americans in the country. This tax waiver represents Disney-villain level evilness; it is nothing more than blatant and unashamed pandering to the obscenely wealthy. At a time when corporate profits are the highest that they’ve ever been and corporate taxes are the lowest that they’ve ever been, the Trump administration has determined that the people most in need of immediate relief are the same people recording the best profits and bonuses in bigwig history.

Ohio University can expect a need to tighten their budget should Trump’s tax reform pass. A critical aspect of this is limiting local and state tax deductions to $10,000. In effect, this means that people will no longer be able to deduct the taxes that are paid locally from their federal tax. This is significant because the financial impact of levies and other local tax increases will be massively expanded upon; no longer will you be able to write off the extra couple hundred in that upcoming levy. Expect financially concerned citizens to start voting “No” towards your local community improvement project, lest they be unable to pay rent. Thank you Trump!

What about the graduate students, you may ask? Which part of this bill hurts them? There are multiple reforms that will impact graduate students (and other OU staff and students). One such reform is the removal of the ability to deduct the interest paid on student loans from your taxes. Obviously, in a time when few can afford to pay for college without taking on massive debts, the most immediate solution is to tax them more.

The most prominent reform, to remove a clause from the tax code that specifically restricts the government from taxing tuition waivers received by graduate students, is the one that has garnered the most criticism. These tuition waivers are often given to staff members of the college, high-achieving students or low income individuals who are in need of a grant. To many graduate students, their waiver is a critical part of their ability to afford college.

The Republicans have apparently decided that graduate students don’t deserve these meager waivers, at least not without giving some up. In the same bill that includes a clause that allows millionaire hedge fund managers to legally stash their income overseas, Republicans have done away with the tuition waiver, meaning next time graduate students do their taxes, they are going to have to include their waiver as part of their taxable income. No, this is not a cruel parody of Republicans that mocks their unhinged greed–this is reality. A reality in which our government cuts taxes for the ultra-wealthy while trying to pick the pockets of the working class.

So what can we do about this? The most important thing to do is to prepare yourself to vote blue, yellow, independent, green or just about anyone but the Republicans in 2018. The only Republicans to vote “No” in the House were those in districts with high deduction rates.  Furthermore, the only Republican to vote no in the Senate was Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, who is retiring at the end of his term. Furthermore, every Republican legislator from Ohio voted yes, and hopefully the electorate will let them know how they feel about that in 2018.

In the meantime, we need to continue voicing our displeasure for this bill. For inspiration on how to act, look at the International Socialist Organization, a campus political group, who recently protested against the bill. Also consider multiple Republican congresspersons are pushing to remove the waiver tax. If you live in a red constituency, now is the time to call your congressperson and urge them to support the amendment to remove the waiver tax. No Republican who values their seat will turn against this bill, but you might as well voice your displeasure with the bill while you have them on the line!

Trump’s tax reform will be a disaster for working class people. If you don’t want to see a negative balance in your bank account next year, chances are, you don’t want to vote for this tax bill.

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