Faculty Senate discusses impact of new tax law on NU employees

Faculty Senate discusses impact of new tax law on NU employees
The Faculty Senate met in Raytheon Amphitheater on Wednesday, discussing changes to taxes and university policies. / Photo by Morgan Lloyd

By Daniel Melcer, news correspondent

Northeastern’s Faculty Senate met Wednesday to deliberate on the impact of the recent U.S. tax law on NU employees and to propose improvements to various university policies, including those pertaining to research programs, leave of absence and sabbatical.

The meeting ended with two resolutions to add minor changes to sections of the faculty handbook relating to professional and academic leaves of absence, vacation and sabbatical. Both resolutions were unanimously passed.

Provost of Academic Affairs James Bean kicked off the meeting with a discussion of the possible repercussions of the new tax law.

“Some of the provisions that would have been very deleterious to our students and to us … were the ideas that they might tax tuition remission to graduate students,” Bean said. “That all disappeared largely because of a massive letter-writing campaign from actual students to Congress.”

Though policies aimed at graduate students were removed from the law, a provision that made it in will levy a 21 percent excise tax on university employees who earn more than $1 million per year, excluding medical personnel.

“We don’t have a lot of those at Northeastern,” Bean said. “If you read the chronicles, you would know of one.”

However, newly-hired faculty that move here from elsewhere will likely be most affected by the law. Bean said these faculty will be taxed on their moving allowances, or lump-sum payments given to faculty who move.

Senior Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education Arthur Kramer discussed the school’s research program, focusing on short-term goals such as the reorganization of staffing and software.

“We’re using Excel spreadsheets … sometimes dozens of emails go back and forth,” Kramer said. “We will be upgrading that system so that all transactions will be transparent and viewable to everybody that needs to view them, from initial submission of the grant to closeout of the grant.”

The new software should also help administrators see if any funding gets stuck somewhere within Northeastern.

“It’s frustrating for me, too,” Kramer added.

The Faculty Senate will reconvene on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 11:45 a.m. in the Raytheon Amphitheater.

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