The global economy has hit America hard. Because of our geographic isolation, we have had a historic advantage when competing with other economies. However, with the revolutions in communications and transportation of the latter half of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st, America and its citizens have found competition from places in which they have normally been immune. It is clear that education-as-usual is no longer enough to enable us to keep pace. In short, we must adapt.
There needs to be more universal access to post-secondary education. This access can be facilitated by direct aid, grants, subsidized loans, and refundable tax credits. While using the tax laws to incentivize economic activity has the inherent effect of advantaging the rich and those with high incomes, the tax code can provide refundable credits to those without substantial means or income to afford higher education. This technique would level the access-to-education playing field.
Almost all expenditures incurred to generate income can be deducted on one’s tax returns. One of the biggest exceptions to the deductibility of expenditures designed to generate income is education. While those already involved in a profession can deducted education and training designed to enhance their earning capacity, those who have yet to enter the work force are not similarly situated. It’s time to eliminate this disparity so that those training for a more economically-productive future can take advantage of the tax treatment already afforded to others who are spending for education and training and to other types of expenditures incurred for the production of income. For those who have little or no current income against which to expense education and training costs, either refundable tax credits, or an extended amortization period can be enacted to ensure that education and job training expenditures are treated like any other cost associated with producing income.