Action Requested: Tax Reform and Puget Sound

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

I write to you from Washington, D.C., where I am in engaged in bringing forward concerns about the impact the proposed tax reform legislation under consideration by Congress would have on our ability to fulfill our mission of service to students. It is clear that the proposed legislation would negatively impact students and their families, as well as our faculty and staff members and the higher education community at large.

The proposed reforms are significant and include, among other changes, the following:

  • eliminating the student loan interest deduction and repealing the Lifetime Learning Credit;
  • taxing faculty and staff members on the value of tuition assistance received for themselves and/or their dependents;
  • adding an excise tax on private institution endowment net investment income that is used to fund financial aid and academic programs;
  • changing standard and itemized tax deductions in such a way that charitable giving, which is a significant source of non-tuition-based support, is expected to be negatively affected; and
  • preventing private colleges and universities from accessing tax-exempt bond financing, which is used to fund construction projects essential to our educational mission (for example, the renovation of Thompson Hall and the construction of Thomas Hall). 

Education is a fundamental right to which everyone is entitled. We believe it is possible to offer tax relief in a way that does not increase college costs and make education less accessible. I have expressed these concerns to our Congressional delegation—as have Puget Sound trustees and members of our Alumni Council Executive Committee—and affirmed that we are eager to work together to enact legislation that better meets the needs of our students and their families, our faculty and staff members, our alumni, and those who support and benefit from higher education.

Our mission as a liberal arts college calls on us to meet the highest tests of democratic citizenship, which requires us all to learn about issues and take appropriate action. Whatever your views on tax reform, I urge you to contact the representatives and senators elected to represent your interests. To look up contact information for your representatives and senators, visit House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.

To learn more about the impacts of proposed tax reform on higher education and see examples of messages to consider sending to your congressional members, visit the American Council of Education’s website.

Congress is moving quickly on tax reform legislation. The proposed changes could go into effect as early as Jan. 1, 2018. Please contact Congress now and take advantage of this opportunity to make your voice heard on an issue that affects all of us at Puget Sound, and the current and future students we are called to serve.

Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. | President