Call for Action

CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES

We would like to ask you to call your Representatives/Senators (on Monday 11/20/2017). You can do this even if you are an international student! Of course, you can also call on any other business day during regular hours.

We strongly believe that our voices have to be heard. Calling representatives is an easy way to accomplish this and it takes very little time. Below, you will find a script (“instructions”) written by JHU’s Chapter of American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

We will NOT provide a script for the actual phone call since we do not want to tell you what to tell the representatives. There are multiple reasons for rejecting the part of the tax bill that affects graduate students. If you would like to get an impression what you COULD say, here are examples:

JH Science Policy Group: Scripts

PDF Document: NAGPS Call Script

PDF Document: NAGPS Sample Tweets***

If you call your representatives, staff members will take notes immediately. It is not clear how often emails and mail will be read in detail. In addition to calling, you can think about tweeting at your representatives.

***Please note that the NAGPS scripts were written for the House vote. The NAGPS offers an advocacy page and a PDF Document: Cheat Sheet.

 

PETITION BY THE NAGPS

The NAGPS started a petition today. The letter and signatures will be sent to:

  • U.S. House of Representatives
  • U.S. Senate
  • President of the United States
Here is a small excerpt from the letter: “[…] Because of the aforementioned reasons stated above, we greatly urge Congress to amend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to remove these provisions from the plan, and to not increase the tax burden on graduate students and college graduates.”

If you would like to read the entire letter and consider signing, please follow this link:

Remove Provisions Increasing Tax Burden on Students and Higher Education from the Tax Plan

 

How do I call Representatives?

We would like to thank JHU’s AAUP Chapter for sharing this information.

The U.S. Senate has begun the process of “melding” its version of the tax reform bill with the bill approved by the House, which removes provisions 117 and 127 that exempt from tax any tuition waivers, dependent/spousal tuition benefits, and student loan interest.

If you’re completing an advanced degree thanks to a fellowship with tuition remission, if you received in the past a tuition benefit that helped you get through college, or if you’re paying back student loan interest, then you know how crippling the removal of any these exemptions would be. The amounts would in part or in full, under the House plan, be classified as taxable income.

Everyone on our campuses, our families and friends can now step up and urge U.S. Senators to reject any compromise bill that would kill articles 117 and 127, as does the House tax bill approved Nov. 16.

What do you need to do? First, identify your two U.S. Senators in the state where you’re registered to vote. If your home state has one or more Republican Senators, you call will make even more of a difference.

You can find Senate contact information here: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

Though they have already voted, you can still call to register your opposition with members of the House of Representatives:

Pick up a phone during working hours (e-mails won’t be answered until it’s too late). A staffer will take your call. Identify yourself by name and give your hometown and county where you’re registered to vote, then state BRIEFLY the reasons for which you ask your elected representative to vote against any bill that would abolish the standing 117 and 127 exemptions.There’s no need to prepare long talking points: thirty or forty-five seconds will be enough for the staffer to register your input.Please take five minutes of your time to place a call in support of higher education this coming Monday, Nov. 20, and make sure to share this information widely and loudly.

 

Press Coverage

This is not a comprehensive list of articles but we picked a few examples.

New York Times: The House just Voted to Bankrupt Graduate Students

Chronicle of Higher Education: How the House GOP Tax Plan would Affect Grad Students

NPR: Grad Students would be Hit by Massive Tax Hike under House GOP Plan

Washington Post: I’m a grad student, and the Republican tax plan could cost me thousands of dollars

Nature: Graduate Students Face Alarming Tax Hike

Washington Post: The destructive part of the Republican tax bill you’re not paying attention to

 

Tax Calculator

A fellow graduate student from the Bloomberg School of Public Health built a tax calculator. The GRO would like to thank Benjamin Ackerman for sharing his app.

(The GRO does not take any responsibility for the accuracy of the calculations. If you try to estimate possible future taxes: Please be aware that numbers and percentages can change!)