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House amendment means Md. colleges unlikely to be affected by tax

Under proposed legislation, some schools' investment earnings would be taxed at a rate of 1.4 percent. Currently, that criteria would apply to Johns Hopkins University, whose Homewood campus is shown here, as well as Goucher College and Washington College. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Under proposed legislation, some schools’ investment earnings would have been taxed at a rate of 1.4 percent. After an amendment, that criteria would no longer apply to Johns Hopkins University, whose Homewood campus is shown here, as well as Goucher College and Washington College. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

A cause for concern for Maryland private colleges and universities could have been alleviated Monday evening by an amendment to the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Originally, the proposed tax plan would have put a 1.4 percent excise tax on private university investment earnings for schools with more than 500 full-time students and investment assets of more than $100,000 per student.

During Monday’s markup session in the House Ways and Means Committee, that criteria was amended so the tax would only apply to schools with endowment assets of $250,000 or more per student.

That means that Maryland schools that could have been taxed under the original proposal would not be taxed under the current proposal. Those schools included Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College, Washington College and, potentially, St. John’s College.

Traditionally, these schools receive limited support from the state government — it’s estimated to be less than 3 percent of their funds — and use these investment earnings to supported endowed faculty positions, student support services and financial aid.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is still undergoing markup in the Ways and Means Committee. The U.S. Senate is expected to unveil its tax plan later this week.

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