Gross Announces Gift Tax Rebate

Election-eve move could affect Undergraduate Council campaign

Just four days after saying that the "there is no plan to repeal" a new administration-imposed tax on gifts to student groups, Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross '71 told Undergraduate Council leaders this afternoon that groups will be reimbursed for the levy.

In an e-mail this afternoon to UC President John S. Haddock '07 and Vice President Annie R. Riley '07, Gross wrote:

"I have spoken with Dean Knowles and Dean Kidd about the FAS gift tax on student accounts. Although it would be improper for FAS to selectively repeal the tax, I have decided that the College will reimburse student groups for this assessment."

Ryan A. Petersen ’08, who announced the decision at tonight’s Undergraduate Council meeting, emphasized that FAS has not agreed to repeal the tax.

"I think it is great that we are finally getting some traction on it, but I don’t think it is the end," said Petersen. "We need to be sure that the FAS dean and the president of the University all realize that discrimination that would be done to undergraduates in our diverse community by the tax’s existence."

When asked why the College’s approach to the tax had changed over the past several days, Petersen said that Gross "was getting pressured from a lot of us talking to him, and this way he can ostensibly say that the tax is still happening."

The 5-percent tax would have risen to 15 percent within three years. A committee that includes Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd had recommended last month that student groups be exempted from the tax, which is imposed upon all units of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Faculty Dean Jeremy R. Knowles, though, told The Crimson last week that the tax would stand. “As Dean I should not (by making such exceptions) micro-manage the major units of the FAS,” Knowles wrote in an e-mail.

The move comes on the eve of the UC presidential election. One of the candidates, Ryan A. Petersen '08, had led the council's tax-relief advocacy. A rival, Tom D. Hadfield '08, had lambasted the UC's lobbying effort: “The current approach of asking administrators nicely is not working,” Hadfield said Wednesday.

-Alexander D. Blankfein contributed to the reporting of this article.
-Check for updates.