In DepthU.S. Policy

Science groups urge changes as Congress nears final tax bill

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Science  08 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6368, pp. 1239
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6368.1239

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The U.S. scientific and academic communities have launched a last-minute campaign to fend off major changes to the nation's tax code that they say will harm higher education, biomedical innovation, and efforts to promote renewable energy. But time is running short. The U.S. Senate last week approved a massive, Republican-backed rewrite of the federal tax code that mirrors, in key respects, a bill passed on 16 November by the U.S. House of Representatives. Both bills would dramatically cut corporate rates and, over a decade, deliver a majority of their benefits to the most affluent individuals. But there are also major differences between the measures, and Republican leaders in Congress have pledged to iron out the differences in time to send final legislation to President Donald Trump by the end of the year. The tight schedule leaves little time for research and university advocates to persuade lawmakers to drop several provisions that they oppose. We look at some of the flashpoints, including new taxes on tuition waivers for graduate students, university endowments, and an effort to do away with a tax break for developing so-called orphan drugs for rare diseases.