Why Student Loan Forgiveness Won’t Cover Higher Tax Bills


President Biden announces plan to pardon $10,000 in student loans For all borrowers with less than $125,000 in annual income (250,000 for couples), Pell Grant recipients will be eligible for a $20,000 waiver. For many, the change will be even more lenient because last year’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) makes loan forgiveness tax-free. But the facility could add more than $30 billion to the government’s cost.

Typically, loan forgiveness is treated as taxable income. Imagine a hypothetical taxpayer with $50,000 per year in taxable income who had a $10,000 loan forgiven. When they file their taxes, they will claim $60,000 in taxable income. This makes sense from a tax policy standpoint, as loan forgiveness is a improving well-being, But for someone making monthly payments on a five-digit loan, that one-time, year-end tax bill can be quite painful and feels like an unrecoverable loan payment with a huge tax liability.

While much of the public’s attention last year focused on ARPA’s economic impact payments and expanded child tax credits, the law also created student loan forgiveness. Tax free between December 31, 2020 and January 1, 2026. At the time the bill passed, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the cost of the provision would be $44 million For more than a decade, largely because a relatively small number of borrowers were estimated to have student loans forgiven.

But overall the federal government has $1.6 trillion in student loans for about 43 million borrowers, according to education data initiative, About two-thirds of borrowers owe more than $10,000. Based on these and other data, a responsible federal budget committee estimates that the government will spend approximately $360 billion Forgive their debt.

using some raw math Average Total Federal Tax Rate for All Families (about 9 percent), foregoing about $34 billion in income tax revenue.

There are also state taxes to consider. many states Automatically taxes are not consistent with changes in the federal definition of income, so unless they have clear rules or take further legislative action, some beneficiaries may end up due state taxes on the forgiven portion of their debts. .

Is this the best use of $360 billion? Maybe not. Many people never go to college, and those who just got a high school education earn far less than those earning a college degree, making this a regressive policy. Black borrowers, on the other hand, hold much more debt on average than other groups and are more likely to default on their loans. As a result, pardons are seen by supporters as a way to help address racial wealth inequalities. Up to this point, increased forgiveness for Pell grant recipients would help, as they Beneficiaries are from low-income households that are disproportionately black,

Whichever side of the debate you are on, the root cause of the problem is the rapidly rising higher education costs, which have left many people in debt in the first place. Biden is involved structural change A watch list for student loan administration and monitoring of school programs that generate a high amount of debt. Policymakers also want to clamp down on for-profit colleges and identify more affordable, alternative career path options, such as apprenticeship programs. But even if you’re in favor of some sort of massive student loan forgiveness, we’d argue that again, if the factors that drive up the cost of college are not taken into account.


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