This past December, a tax overhaul bill was passed by Congress which updated the tax code for the American people— and had the potential for major implications for Baldwin Wallace and other universities.
There were two forms of the bill, the House and the Senate versions, which would each affect the staff at BW differently, said Sam Ramirez, assistant vice president for Human Resources and Payroll Services.
“There were two benefits that we were concerned about,” said Ramirez. “One is: higher education institutions can provide tuition benefits to faculty staff and their dependents.”
Right now, those benefits are treated as tax free and this will continue forward with the new tax changes.
The other benefit that was concerning to Ramirez was about graduate level classes for employees.
“Graduate level classes were always taxable,” Ramirez said. Employees can take $5,250 worth of taxes that are taxfree. Anything over would be considered taxable income for the employee. That didn’t change either. These issues were major concerns for the university, even if they didn’t change.
“An example would be that you have somebody working right now who makes $35,000 a year,” said Ramirez, “and they have a child attending here and they receive a benefit worth $30,000. Had the house bill passed, taxable income would have been $65,000 rather than $35,000, which is what had and will continue to happen.”
The university waives up to 92% of the tuition and employees are responsibility for 8%, according to Ramirez.
As the changes were happening, Baldwin Wallace shared information as it came out, giving employees information so that they could write to their congressmen. Furthermore, some of the national organizations that the university are part of were lobbying against the House bill, as it would hurt recruiting and employees as there would be less take-home pay for employees, also hurting the institution in terms of being able to recruit people.
The rest of the tax change does affect people in general, according to Ramirez, though it is unclear whether these changes are ultimately good or not.
“There’s supposedly a tax reduction, so the tables have changed,” said Ramirez. “It is unclear whether people will be taking home more or less money. Washington sold it such that people will take home more money.”