IDSA warns: Tax reform will hit infectious disease R&D

Russell Senate building
IDSA believes tax reform could prove detrimental to a range of R&D areas, notably in infectious diseases.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) warns that potential new tax changes from the government could hit biomedical research for major public health areas.

The Arlington, Va.-based lobby group said in a statement that proposed changes to the U.S. tax code “would impact our nation’s ability to make essential investments in biomedical research and public health.”

It also says it is “troubled” by specific provisions that could hit the scientific workforce, as well as the nonprofit community.

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Its concerns center around several key areas, such as the national debt and a restriction of funding for public health bodies.

It sees tax reform as pushing up the national deficit, something it believes will “likely increase pressure to reduce further discretionary federal spending on health programs to address the burgeoning deficit.”

IDSA says it is “alarmed” that unless Congress overrides current law requiring automatic spending cuts to offset significant increases to the deficit, the tax bill will trigger automatic cuts to Medicare (up to $25 billion) and the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

The Fund provides more than 12% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget, which helps deliver support for immunizations programs, efforts to reduce healthcare-associated infections as well as epidemiology and lab capacity.

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It’s also concerned about education: Whereas some academic institutions currently waive some or all of Ph.D. student tuitions in exchange for research or teaching commitments, IDSA says that the House tax bill would treat waived tuition as taxable income for these students.

“We are distressed that the provision would put graduate education out of reach for most promising individuals, deplete the pipeline of new scientists, and leave the nation without the necessary expertise to remain the world’s leader in biomedical research,” it says.

It also shares the concerns of other nonprofit organizations over a segment of the Senate tax bill that would subject royalties received by nonprofits for the use of their name or logo to unrelated business income tax. “Such royalties are an essential part of revenue for many nonprofits that can be reinvested in activities to support our missions, including education and research,” IDSA says.