Harvard University and other Ivy League schools are lobbying Democrats to roll back a Trump-era excise tax that on private endowments even though these institutions are sitting on tens of billions of dollars in cash, according to reports.
Harvard’s president, Lawrence Bacow, personally met with senior Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), to lobby against the 1.4% excise tax, according to The Intercept.
Bacow urged Democrats to repeal the tax despite the fact that Harvard’s endowment grew to $53.2 billion last year — the highest in the nation — after the school reported a 33% return on investment.
Harvard isn’t alone among Ivy League schools whose student bodies are made up primarily of youngsters from some of the country’s wealthiest families.
Other top-flight schools such as Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell have also hired lobbyists to push Congress to do away with the tax, which they regard as a measure that was imposed by President Donald Trump as an act of political spite.
Stanford’s endowment swelled to $41.9 billion, a 40.1% return on its investment.
In 2017, Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress.
The law imposes an excise tax on investment returns on endowment assets of $500,000 per full time equivalent student at private colleges. The statute applies to around 100 colleges and universities nationwide.
Before Trump signed the tax law, donations to university endowments were shielded from federal and state taxes.
The Post has reached out to Schumer’s office as well as to Harvard, UPenn, Stanford, and Cornell seeking comment.
Bacow told David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group back in May that the excise tax was a Republican concoction aimed at punishing their political enemies.
“The tax was constructed disproportionately to tax institutions in liberal states,” he said.
Bacow added: “I think this is bad public policy. We’re a charitable institution.”