Tax- cut bill would make it harder to af­ford col­lege

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION -

In thank­ing his sup­port­ers fol­low­ing the Ne­vada cau­cuses, can­di­date Don­ald Trump an­nounced, “I love the poorly ed­u­cated.” And now it’s start­ing to look like in­creas­ing the size of that con­stituency has be­come one of the goals of tax re­form.

Law­mak­ers as­sert that the code’s var­i­ous tax benefits re­lated to ed­u­ca­tion are too com­plex and need to be stream­lined. But in­stead of pro­vid­ing the same amount of ed­u­ca­tion in­cen­tives, or in­creas­ing them, their stream­lined ver­sion would make ma­jor cuts.

The re­sult is an es­ti­mated tax rev­enue in­crease of about $ 65 bil­lion over 10 years, rep­re­sent­ing a big tax hike for many work­ing fam­i­lies. The bill would make it harder for many fam­i­lies to af­ford col­lege. For ex­am­ple, it would re­duce the choice of cred­its and tax- fa­vored sav­ings op­tions, tax most em­ployer- pro­vided ed­u­ca­tion benefits, end the de­duc- tion for stu­dent loan in­ter­est and re­duce the in­cen­tive for em­ploy­ers to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tional benefits.

Repub­li­cans claim that this tax bill is about cre­at­ing jobs. But to­day’s good jobs and the jobs of the fu­ture are likely to re­quire more ed­u­ca­tion, not less. And by adding an es­ti­mated $ 1.5 tril­lion of deficits over 10 years, this bill would make fu­ture cuts in fed­eral fund­ing for ed­u­ca­tion more likely. More­over, by dis­al­low­ing the fed­eral tax de­duc­tion for most state and lo­cal taxes, it would make it harder for state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments to raise taxes to pay for bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion.

David J. Roberts, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of ac­coun­tancy,

DePaul Uni­ver­sity

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