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Call Congress Day

 As you may know, the recent tax reform bill proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Tax Cut & Jobs Act, would have a substantial effect on graduate students. Provisions in the bill would entail:
  • Taxing tuition waivers as income and would ultimately cost graduate-professional students thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per year.
  • The elimination of tax credits that graduate-professional students depend on, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the Lifetime Leaning Tax Credit, and the Student Loan Interest Deduction.

As a result, most of a graduate stipend would go towards paying taxes, putting higher education out of reach for most and offsetting the recent advances that have been made in stipend increases at the University of Missouri. For example, at the current minimum stipend of $18,000, graduate students would be subject to an additional $12,900 in taxable income, or upwards of $2000 in income tax (see calculation details here).

We are proposing the following action steps to combat these tax reforms.

  1. Call your elected officials (TODAY): the National Association for Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS) is hosting a Call Congress Dayon Wednesday, November 8th from 8 AM – 4 PM CT. Please take a few moments to call Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Sen. Roy Blunt, and Sen. Claire McCaskill and urge them to oppose these reforms (see script and contact information attached).
  2. Write a letter to your elected officials: We are encouraging each department, coordinated by the GPC/GSA representatives or department DGS, to write a letter to U.S. representatives and senators urging them to oppose the tuition waiver taxation provisions of the Tax Cut & Jobs Act. We have attached a letter template, but we encourage your department to personalize the letter as much as possible. Return letters to GPC Director of National Affairs, Rachel Owen (gpc.legislative@missouri.edu), to be submitted directly to our contacts in the offices of Rep. Hartzler and Senators Blunt and McCaskill. Because the bill is moving quickly through the House, please submit letters by Friday, November 17.
  3. Send an email to your elected officials: The American Council on Education has put together several email templates to write to your elected officials opposing the provisions in the Tax Cut & Jobs Act that affect higher education. Click hereto customize an email to your federal elected officials.
  4. Use social media to spread the word: In the past few days, the impacts of these tax reforms on graduate students have built momentum on social media, but we need as much help as possible to spread the word. Use #ReworktheReform or #NAGPS4U to share your stories and information about the reforms on Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media outlets. Follow @Mizzou_GPC, @MizzouGSA, and @NAGPS for the latest updates.  Please find sample tweets attached.

Let’s work together to assure that graduate students are protected under the Tax Cut & Jobs Act! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Please also contact Rachel K. Owen if you have any questions, GPC Director of National Affairs, at rko4kd@mail.missouri.edu

TCJA Call Script

Sample Policy Letter to Member of Congress

Sample Tax Tweets

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Mizzou GPC and the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS) are advocating for Congress to pass the FASTR Act which would require all federally funded research to be openly accessible within 6 months of publication.

As journal prices continue to skyrocket and campus libraries struggle to find the funding to keep subscriptions to journals essential for students and faculty, it is imperative that the government takes this step toward making published research more accessible. Join us and spread the word in contacting Missouri’s Representatives and urging them to pass FASTR! Cookies and coffee will be provided to those who call from the Student Center.

Here are some useful facts to aid you in your call:

– The federal government spends $10s of billions of dollars on research

– Researchers write, review, and edit publications on almost an entirely volunteer basis

– Publishers put research publications behind a pay wall and charge universities millions of dollars to access the research they created

 

More talking points and a list of Missouri’s Representatives and their D.C. office phone numbers: Open Access Call Script and Call List

Twitter scripts: Open Access Twitter

 

Founded in 1983, the Graduate Professional Council (GPC) is the official student government for all graduate, professional, post-baccalaureate, and post-doctoral students at the University of Missouri.