Tax Reform Action Alert

November 14, 2017

Dear friend of entomology,


The situation:
The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering tax reform legislation, H.R. 1, that would change the way graduate student income is considered and result in large tax increases for many graduate students, including those in the entomological community. Specifically, many doctoral students currently receive a tax-free tuition waiver or benefit as part of their graduate package under tax code provision 117(d)(5). If the proposal were enacted, it would repeal 117(d)(5) and make any waived tuition taxable, thus adding many thousands of dollars to an individual graduate student's taxable income. For some students, this could result in triple the tax liability and several thousands of dollars in additional payments to the IRS.

The House is planning to vote on tax reform Thursday, but there is still time to express concern and pressure House leadership to remove this harmful provision from their bill. Every voice matters as offices are fielding concerns from many different constituents. Offices will not know about concerns unless we tell them.

What you can do:
Call your Members of Congress to let them know your concerns with the bill
. A suggested script and contact information is below and their contact information is on the ESA website here. For all actions please remember to be polite – staffers are working hard to field many calls. You may also want to:

  • Tweet at Members of Congress with your concerns
  • Share this information with colleagues and friends

Sample Call Script:
"Introduce yourself and your role at your institution, for example: Hi, I'm ________ and I'm a graduate student/postdoc/faculty in entomological sciences at _________. I am very concerned about a provision in the tax reform proposal that would repeal section 117(d)(5). I/my students rely on this provision to make graduate education affordable. If enacted, graduate education would be out of reach for many students who would face unaffordable new tax liabilities. This change would also harm our future STEM workforce and thus hamper US competitiveness. I hope you will support a strong US workforce and basic and applied research in entomology and the entire STEM ecosystem by voting against this harmful provision."

You can find your Member of Congress and contact information (plus other helpful tools) on the ESA Science Policy communications page. As always, thank you for advocating for entomology. This is your Society and your science.


Susan J. Weller
ESA Science Policy Committee Chair and past president


Update 12/15/2017: 

Though the tax bill ultimately passed in both chambers and was signed by the President into law, the damaging language related to tuition waivers was removed from the Senate version and did not make it into the final bill.