House GOP proposal would hike taxes on UW graduate students - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

House GOP proposal would hike taxes on UW graduate students

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Graduate students at UW-Madison and other Wisconsin universities would pay a lot more in federal income tax under proposal being considered by House Republicans.

Marissa Gaskill is a PhD candidate in cellular biology, who is in the second year of a five-year program.
"There's a lot of applications that could be made about cellular reprogramming, based on what I do," says Gaskill.

Committing to a PhD program like this involves some sacrifice, according to Gaskill.

"A lot of your peers are working for companies and they're getting 401K's, and they're saving for retirement, and they're making a lot more money," said Gaskill.

Marissa's $26,000 per year stipend from UW is already subject to taxes, but under the House Republican plan, the $12,000 in tuition that's covered for her by the university would also be treated as income.

That means her federal tax burden would increase by more than 50 percent.

"That would be not great for me. It's kind of alarming," said Gaskill.

"It would have long-term repercussions nationwide, in terms of the research endeavor," said Melissa Harrison, an associate professor in Biomolecular Chemistry.

Professor Harrison runs the lab where Marissa Gaskill is doing her research, and says it is hard enough for her students to get by under the current tax system.

"And they're not going to if they're going to basically be impoverished by coming to graduate school," said Professor Harrison. "So, I think we'd really miss out on getting a really trained workforce."

UW-Madison is among many research universities actively fighting the proposal.

"The UW-Madison Graduate School shares our students' concerns. We recognize the critical role that graduate students play in ensuring the United States remains competitive in research and education both nationally and internationally. We are working with our Federal Relations office in engaging the Wisconsin congressional delegation to address this issue," wrote UW Graduate School Dean William J. Karpus.

Professor Harrison says federal lawmakers should realize the idea would have negative economic implications as well.

"The reason that the greater Madison area has such an amazing amount of startup companies is because there's this pipeline from the university of these trained people to go and work at these companies," said Professor Harrison.

27 News reached out to House Speaker Paul Ryan's office for a comment about this story, but has not received a response.

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