Much of the current bench research conducted in natural products science is carried out by graduate students, who receive very modest stipends and tuition waivers as compensation. It is of great concern therefore that the current proposed new tax code reform being discussed will change this and increase graduate student tax liability to include these tuition waivers as direct income. It has been estimated that students will have their tax burden increase manifold, a significant financial burden on a group who already have to deal with limited resources. This reform will also eliminate tax deductions for interest paid on student loans and remove the Lifetime Learning Credit, adding additional strains on students.
We, and many others, strongly believe that, if passed, this change will discourage high-achieving individuals from entering further education. This will especially affect those students from deprived backgrounds and thus may have a negative impact on their social mobility.
As importantly, without the interest of highly qualified students in entering the scientific research world, the science and technological status of the United States will be severely hampered and will result in us being much less competitive with countries that have a more progressive approach.
Members of the ASP are encouraged to contact their political representatives to express their concern about the proposed changes.