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Talking Points: Eliminating Taxation of Ed Award

 
HR 1596 TALKING POINTS
  1. 1. Introduction: Begin by identifying yourself by name, and let the staff representative know that you are a constituent of the district.
  2. 2. Be concise and to the point: Ask to speak with the staff person in charge of national service legislation (specifically AmeriCorps), and be clear that you are calling regarding HR 1596 (the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Tax Relief Act of 2009.)  If the staff person in charge of national service legislation is not available, ask to leave a voice mail message.
  3. Make the ask: Ask your Congressman to co-sponsor HR 1596.
  4. Communicate the logic behind the ask: You can use one or more of the five reasons listed below as to why HR 1596 makes sense.  Feel free to add why this is personally important to you (perhaps that it will cost you $xxxx amount of dollars in taxes if the bill is not passed)
  5. Provide the necessary next steps to the staff representative: If they agree to co-sponsor the bill, Democrats should contact Jesse Uman in Congressman John Lewis' Office at 202.225.3801, and Republicans should contact Terri Fish in Congressman Charles Boustany's office at 202.225.2031.
  6. Report the results: If your Congressman agrees or declines to co-sponsor HR 1596, we want to hear about it.  If they give you a definitive answer (either yes or no), please e-mail Greg Heinrich at gheinrich@americorpsalums.org immediately.
REASONS TO SUPPORT H.R. 1596

1. SAVES TAXPAYERS AN ESTIMATED $XXX MILLION OVER THE NEXT 10 YEARS
Over the next ten years, from 2010 to 2019 the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates this bill will save taxpayers $XXX million dollars.
 
2. TAXATION OF THE ED AWARD IS NOT IN LINE WITH SIMILAR FEDERAL EDUCATIONAL AWARDS
In contrast to the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, G.I. Bill benefits are not treated as taxable income.  More over, today the  Education Award is still only  a maximum of $5,350, while the education benefit given to military veterans (for those who enlist for less than 3 years) is up to $13,200 for a comparable twelve months of service.  AmeriCorps members can earn two Ed Awards for two years of service, for a total of $10,700.  Likewise, Pell Grants are not treated as taxable income, and just like the GI Award, average awarded amounts of the Pell Grant have steadily increased since the '93-'94 school year.

3. RISING COST OF EDUCATION

Since 1993, the cost to attend institutions of higher learning has more than doubled. During this same time, the Ed Award has received only one minor increase.  Eliminating taxation on the Education Award would help to supplement Congressional efforts to make college more affordable for AmeriCorps alumni across the country, while at the same time signal Congressional support for national and community service.  

 
4. TAXATION IS COUNTER TO ITS INTENT

As part of the National Service and Community Trust Act of 1993, the Ed Award was enacted into law as a way to invest in the education of those U.S. residents who served their country in a domestic capacity.  Because its taxation has the effect of reducing the amount of educational funding that can be accessed through its usage, taxation of the Ed Award is counter to its intent.  Eliminating its taxation would send a signal that reaffirms Congressional support for those individuals who serve their country in a domestic capacity while at the same time promoting the value of national and community service to our country.

 

5. ELIMINATING TAXATION MAY INCREASE UTILIZATION OF THE ED AWARD

While there is no scientific study to verify the validity of this claim, it is also possible that more alumni would utilize their Ed Award if they knew they would not be taxed during tax season.  This would not only pump more funding into institutions of higher learning, it would allow for the education of more AmeriCorps alums, better equipping them for success in the workforce.

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