House Passes Congressman Black’s Legislation to Make Tax Code Simpler for Students and Families

Jul 24, 2014 Issues: Education, Tax Reform

(Click Image Above to Watch Rep. Black Speak in Support of the Legislation on the House floor)

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), member of the House Ways and Means Committee, applauded House passage of her bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3393, the Student and Family Tax Simplification Act.

“It’s a well-known fact that the cost of education is climbing, and that for too many, the ability to save and pay for college without ending up under a mountain of debt is simply out of reach,” said Congressman Black. “Today’s broken tax code does little to ease that financial burden or provide a sense of security that education will be a reality in the future. Streamlining the number of education provisions and retooling those that are most effective allows us to simplify the code and reduce some of the confusion that exists today. As a result, students can spend less time figuring out how to finance the cost of a higher education and more time developing the skills they need to succeed in a knowledge-based economy. I think we can all agree that it ought to be easier for any family to plan, save and invest in education. I applaud my colleagues in the House for their work today, and I urge the Senate to follow our lead by taking up this important legislation to make higher education more affordable for American students and families.”

In 2013, Congressman Black chaired the Ways and Means Committee’s Education Tax Reform Working Group, one of eleven bipartisan working groups established by Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) to make our tax code flatter, fairer and simpler. This Working Group is the only group, to date, to produce legislation. Specifically, Black’s bill consolidates four existing education provisions — the Hope Credit, the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the tuition deduction — into a single, modernized and strengthened AOTC.  The new AOTC, which would be permanent and partially refundable, would:

  • Provide a 100-percent tax credit for the first $2,000 of eligible higher education expenses and a 25-percent tax credit for the next $2,000 of such expenses (for a maximum credit of $2,500).
  • The first $1,500 of the credit would be refundable, meaning that families could receive the benefit regardless of whether they have Federal income tax liability.
  • The credit could be used to offset expenses for tuition, fees and course materials.
  • The credit would be available for up to four years of post-secondary education at qualifying four-year universities, community colleges, and trade and vocational schools.
  • The credit would begin to phase out for families with incomes between $160,000 and $180,000 (half those amounts for single individuals), ensuring that the credit provides the greatest benefit and value to low- and middle-income families

This legislation is supported by the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Community College Trustees, the National Association of College Stores, and the United States Student Association.

VIDEO: Congressman Black Reads Student’s Letter of Support on House Floor


Congressman Diane Black represents Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. She has been a registered nurse for more than 40 years and serves on the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees.