November 14, 2017

Dear Members of the Trinity Community,

I write to make clear the serious implications of the tax reform plans making their way through Congress right now and to assure you that we are watching carefully and doing all we can to advocate for good and fair tax policy as it relates to higher education.

While the Senate proposal​ introduced late last week leaves out some onerous aspects of the House proposal, it retains provisions that could significantly hinder our ability to fulfill our mission.

Among the most troubling aspects of both plans is an unprecedented excise tax on the endowment earnings of certain private colleges. Both proposals also would reduce significantly the number of tax filers who could itemize charitable contributions​, which the National Council of Nonprofits has estimated would cut charitable donations by some $13 billion a year. The Senate version also proposes new taxes on income from activities and programs such as summer sports camps and summer conferences that Trinity and many colleges offer.

Our endowment earnings, the philanthropic support we enjoy, and income from summer programs at Trinity allow us to provide a high-quality education and meet the full demonstrated financial need of our students. Our financial aid program builds excellence and increases access to a Trinity education for talented students from all backgrounds. While the exact financial impact is not yet known, what we do know is that the tax proposals now before Congress would redirect critical resources from our educational mission to the federal government.

When the House Committee on Ways and Means released the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act​ proposal last week, I moved quickly to write to our congressional delegation and to all Trinity alumni who work on Capitol Hill to urge them to reject these harmful provisions.

The Ways and Means Committee now has approved its bill, and the full House may take up the legislation this week. The Senate’s Finance Committee is working on its version this week as well. I ask all of you to understand the implications of these proposals and consider reaching out to your elected officials to communicate your concerns​. Trinity and our peers in higher education exist to advance the public good, a mission that has driven and defined us for nearly 200 years. We seek to continue undeterred in carrying out our mission.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience