Univ. of Minn. grad students rally against GOP tax bill

Hundreds of University of Minnesota graduate students joined the national Grad Tax Walkout on the Twin Cities campus Wednesday. The teaching assistants, research assistants and other graduate workers joined thousands of across the nation in rallying to oppose the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which they say could end up costing them more money. 

This month, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a tax bill that promises middle class tax relief. However, students who are working toward an advanced degree are among those who could be paying more under the new plan. 

As it stands now, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would count graduate tuition waivers as taxable income. That means working graduate students – such as teaching assistants, research assistants and other graduate workers – who thought they could earn a their degree without having to pay for tuition could still end up taking out loans to pay the tax on their tuition credits.

"Let's say they got $40,000 of tuition waived in a year that could mean thousands maybe 10,000 maybe more maybe less of additional tax they would have to pay that they would have to come up some way," Douglas McDonald, an accountant, told Fox 9. 

On Wednesday, students gathered at Coffman Plaza and marched to Morrill Hall. At the rally, Tracey Blasenheim, a graduate students, told the crowd, “Make no mistake; the passage of this bill will create a crisis in graduate education.” 

Last week, over 100 students attended a graduate student forum addressing the issue of the tuition tax. Speakers called on Congressional representatives from Minnesota to defend and support graduate students by opposing the tax bill. 

Students are not the only ones upset over the House tax bill. Educators plan to protest the GOP plan because it removes the tax deduction for teachers who buy school supplies for their classrooms.

Education Minnesota calls the plan a massive tax giveaway to wealthy individuals at the expense of educators and other working people.  

The tax reform bill is now headed to the Senate floor and could see a vote as early as tomorrow. President Donald Trump warns there will be some adjustments to the bill to help earn the support of senators who are still on the fence.

The House has already passed its version. Once the Senate bill passes, lawmakers will have to reach an agreement for a final bill.