While higher education institutions are not happy with the new excise tax, their upcoming fees pale in comparison to the amounts universities are paying outside money managers to oversee their endowment investments, reports the International Business Times. For example, in 2014 Princeton would have paid $47.5m under the new tax reform, less than 11 times the $546m it paid investment managers that same year.
Despite the frenzied narrative, college and university leaders are not frantically searching for ways to avoid the endowment tax and instead are attempting to determine its short-term implications, writes Inside Higher Ed. Specifically, while the bill says net investment income will be taxed, it is unclear how it will be calculated, as well as what assets are to be excluded from calculating the $500,000 per student limit.
The publication also notes that the number of colleges within the excise tax’s threshold is likely to rise in the future as endowment values grow. Using endowment values from the 2015-2016 year as a base, 23 institutions would have been subject to the new 1.4% tax on earnings, compared to potentially 31 to 41 in five years and 41 to 61 in 10 years.
Dartmouth College believes the tax will cost its $5bn endowment roughly $5m a year in taxes in the short term, according to The Dartmouth. The school’s CFO, Mike Wagner, said the tax will not have an immediate impact on the college’s spending, but in the long run the potential investment gains that could be accrued from the lost tax dollars could cost Dartmouth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Northwestern University believes it will be punished for its positive investment returns in fiscal year 2017, finds The Daily Northwestern. The school’s endowment reached $10.5bn at the end of August, and with 20,500 full-time equivalent students, its assets have an estimated value of $510,000 per student, eclipsing the half-million-dollar threshold.