The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) opposes the provision in The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (HR 1) that would eliminate Section 117(d)(5) of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code. Section 117(d)(5) exempts tuition waivers from taxable income for graduate students who serve as teaching or research assistants. The impact of the provision has the potential to create serious repercussions throughout the research community and significantly increase the tax liability for graduate students.
The exemption of tuition waivers from taxable income allows thousands of Master’s and Doctoral candidates to avoid financial hardships that would otherwise prevent them from pursing their degree. As over 50% of tuition waivers are provided to students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) fields, the proposed repeal of Section 117(d)(5) will have an immediate and devastating impact on the research workforce, derailing progress we have made in vaccine development, cancer therapies, bioengineering, and much more. Ensuring that the United States will be able to continue to attract, train, and retain the most talented workforce is essential to creating a dynamic and thriving scientific enterprise and growing our economy. Eliminating the exemption of tuition waivers from taxable income for those seeking additional education and training will have adverse effects on multiple sectors and will weaken the nation’s status as a leader in research. Therefore, the NPA joins numerous other organizations in opposing the repealing of Section 117(d)(5) in HR 1.