The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

CUPA-HR Participates in Hill Meetings With House Ways and Means Committee Member Offices

Over the last month, CUPA-HR’s government relations team joined the American Council on Education (ACE) and other higher education organizations in virtual Capitol Hill meetings to discuss tax priorities for the higher education community. Meetings have been held with staffers of Members of the House Ways and Means Committee to advocate for tax policies and proposals to alleviate various burdens placed on students, employees and institutions alike.

Specifically, the meetings have allowed the higher education community to encourage members’ action on the following issues:

  • Supporting the extension and expansion of the universal, non-itemizer charitable deduction;
  • Repealing the taxability of scholarships and grant aid, specifically for the Pell Grant and other scholarships for graduate and medical students;
  • Enhancing higher ed tax credits like the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit;
  • Repealing the endowment tax;
  • Expanding and modernizing tax-free employer-provided educational assistance as granted under Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC);
  • Reinstating advance refunding of tax-exempt bonds and expanding debt issuance with a Direct Pay Bonds program;
  • Creating “lifelong learning and training accounts” to provide workers and employers the opportunity to make tax-free contributions to pay for future training and credentials; and
  • Repealing the unrelated business income tax “basketing” provision.

In June 2021, ACE sent a letter to House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee leadership requesting these proposals and others be included in the American Jobs and American Families Plans. CUPA-HR signed onto this letter, along with several other higher education groups.

CUPA-HR joined the most recent meetings specifically to advocate for the Section 127 expansion and modernization. Section 127 of the IRC is an educational assistance program that allows employers to pay or reimburse an employee tuition or student loan repayments on a tax-free basis up to $5,250. CUPA-HR previously advocated for the program to include student loan repayments, which was granted under the 2020 CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, as well as to increase the annual exclusion cap of $5,250 to an amount closer to $12,000, to expand coverage to employee’s partners and dependents, and to expand coverage to gig workers and independent contractors, all of which were a focus during the meetings.

CUPA-HR will continue to participate in these meetings and will keep members apprised of any legislative proposals that result from these meetings.