Taxing University Endowments

Taxing University Endowments
Photo

The Cornell University campus in Ithaca, N.Y. Credit Heather Ainsworth for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re ā€œBallooning College Endowments Tempt Legislators Chasing Tax Dollarsā€ (news article, Nov. 5):

Yes, large university endowments should be taxed, as proposed in the Republican tax plan, but those tax dollars should go toward local governments and school districts.

Some university endowments have more money than small countries. Ideally endowments would act as rainy day funds and offer stability during tough times. Instead endowments are hoarded during downturns while sacrifices are made elsewhere. In addition, the investments within these endowments are often morally reprehensible and at odds with the values these schools should be cultivating.

At Cornell University, my local multibillion-dollar tax-exempt corporation, the chief investment officer is the highest paid campus employee, earning over $1.4 million annually, which is considerably more than the amount of money the university allots to our local fire department. Iā€™m mentioning this because Cornell does not even contribute enough money to the City of Ithaca to cover the cost of campus fire protection.

As a homeowner and property taxpayer, I have to ask: How much should I be subsidizing the hubris on the hill?

CAROLINE BYRNE, ITHACA, N.Y.

The writer is a Cornell alumna and part-time research assistant.

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