Editorial—Taxing Questions

One of the changes that the Alberta government has made with the new budget is to remove the tax credit that used to be given to students for full-time or part-time studies, along with the corresponding tax credit given for textbooks.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of tax credits as a form of student aid, even though they’re able to be carried forward until you decide to use them (presumably when you’re making some money) because they really don’t help with the here and now costs of actually getting into school.  School administration offices, after all, are understandably reluctant to accept an IOU as payment until your tax refund kicks in.

That said, the recent AUSU Council meeting has to deal with this question, because one of their position policies, the policies that guide the executive as to what’s important to AUSU members, says that they should advocate for improved tax credits. And the reason is that, when it comes to AU students, as usual, we’re different. Many AU students are coming to AU as upgrading; we’re already working, so a tax credit can be immediately applies.  Also pointed out during the Council meeting, and something that I hadn’t really thought about before, the tax credit is one of the only types of student assistance that’s available for students taking courses part time.

Both of these factors mean that the tax credit was particularly appropriate to AUSU’s members. But that’s gone, and from what I’m hearing being told, the government has no particular appetite to bring it back, students simply aren’t as worthy of tax breaks as corporations according to the UCP.  But this means that AUSU Council has to make a decision.  Because tax breaks were particularly helpful for a large number of AU students, should council double down on them, and work to insist that they be reinstated, or should they instead spend that effort figuring out other ways and things to advocate for that AU students would benefit from, such as making funding available for part time studies specifically, or types of bursaries for working students.

Council was pondering this question when Councillor Alice Namu asked if there was a way that Council could seek some direction from the students on this, and personally, I think that’s a great idea.  Given that we simply can’t do everything, what do you think AUSU council should focus on when it’s talking to governments about student aid?  Should it press to bring tuition tax credits back for students, as a program that was able to help students at AU no matter how quickly they took their courses, or should it instead argue for some sort of different arrangements, and if so, do you have any ideas as to what?   Write me at karl@voicemagazine.org with your thoughts on this, or leave a comment way at the bottom of the page here if you’re reading this on the web.  Or better yet, write AUSU council directly at admin@ausu.org (or use their handy form).

When you’re done that, come back here and check our our feature interview, with a mathematics student who’s been published—in knitting magazines for her patterns!  And be sure to look at Wanda Waterman’s interview with Thor Simonsen of Hitmakerz, a record label specializing in music from musicians across Nunavut.  It’s a story you don’t often hear. Plus advice on how to handle credit cards, scholarships, events, and more!  Enjoy the read!

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