Elite colleges with fat endowments are on the defensive as the GOP drags them into a D.C. tax fight
By Astead W. Herndon | Globe Staff | November 15, 2017
WASHINGTON — America’s elite private colleges would rather talk about anything other than their own vast wealth, but Republicans have put the institutions they have long criticized as liberal bastions on the defensive by dragging them into Washington’s messy tax fight.
Tax overhauls drafted in the House and Senate have zeroed in on the billions of dollars that top private schools have tucked away in endowments. The lawmakers want to impose a new 1.4 percent tax on annual income spun off by these vast funds, limiting the tax to the approximately 60 schools where the endowments are worth more than $250,000 per full-time student.
That has thrust the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning — including Harvard, Dartmouth, and a dozen other New England schools — squarely into an intense lobbying battle over money.
But for conservative hard-liners, there will be no tears shed about increasing taxes on institutions that many believe socialize students to leftist values and are silos for the elite. Breitbart News, Fox News, and other conservative media outlets have often referred to Harvard as a "hedge fund with a university attached," and have pressed lawmakers to tax the endowments.
The "taxpayer gravy train" to elite colleges "needs to end," said Adam Andrzejewski, an open government activist who led a segment on Fox News this year.
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