Letter on Taxing Colleges for Undelivered Public Service

September 2, 2014

Mr. Matthew Weir
Director, Rulings and Agreements
Internal Revenue Service, Exempt Organizations
Room 4024
P.O. Box 2508
Cincinnati, OH 45201

Dear Mr. Weir:

Colleges are tax-exempt on the assumption that higher education is a public service. This assumption may have been conspicuously valid in the past, but it is not so now, and I ask that you revaluate the tax-exemption for colleges and universities.
Colleges enable the ideas that fuel health care and our economy, but both are in ruins. America ranks last in health among peer nations according to a recent National Research Council report, and our economy only serves the ultra rich. Median CEO pay exceeds $10 million/year, while the median wage earner takes home less than $42,000/year. Students pay more for college now than at any time previous and they graduate with bigger debts and smaller career prospects than every before. Colleges teach contempt for health stressing students and junior faculty and tolerating tobacco, alcohol, and junk food, and by promoting concussion-prone sports. While students struggle with rising college costs, college administrators have awarded themselves ever-larger salaries and staffs.
Colleges occupy prime real estate and utilize host municipality police, fire, and emergency medical protection along with sewer and public works while paying no tax. Many colleges have sizable endowments, but pay no tax. Yale’s endowment is larger than the gross domestic product of 108 countries, and it grows at more than 10% per year. Why is Yale not paying tax? Why isn’t every college that doesn’t contribute more in public service than it gains from tax-exemption?
If colleges paid tax, the public could offer tax-breaks for desired public service and in this way force colleges to become what they were founded to be. I enclose an op-ed on this topic.


Doug Dix, Ph.D.,
Professor, and
Secretary/Treasurer of MOMS: The Fund for Mothers with Young Children


860 768-4261

also sent to Melaney Partner, Director, Customer Education and Outreach at IRS, and Tamera Pipperda, Director at IRS, and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at P. O. Box 589, Ben Franklin Station, Washington DC 2004-0589. Also sent to Representative John Larson, and Senators Blumenthal and Murphy.


Reply to Dix@hartford.edu