Opinion letter to the editor

Poor logic behind current tax reform bill

To the editor:

The interpretation in the current tax reform bill that education is a taxable commodity sets a precedent which could have far reaching ramifications for graduate students. If graduate students are interpreted as having earned an extra $60,000 of taxable income which is paid by their respective institutions, then similar logic could then be applied to every business employee being sent on a business trip even if they beg not to be sent to Fairbanks in February or to the soldier to be flown to Korea to serve his duty. It would likewise fall under this tax reform bill’s logic that they are then responsible to pay tax on the cost of their travel expenses. With President Trump’s reinterpretation of what is taxable income, he will surely lead by example and pay out of pocket to cover taxes on all of his travel expenses whether he travels to meet a foreign dignitary or to just dust off his putter. If Trump does redefine education as a taxable commodity and removes the alternative minimum tax, then MIT as an institution could deduct $60,000 per student as a business expense and end up coming out ahead in this fiasco. Let’s hope better minds prevail in forming the final version of this tax reform bill.

Peter Sapp
MIT employee at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute