Attention GAs: Tax implications on Graduate Assistantships

Each year, the Office of Graduate Studies and the Office of Financial Aid send a listing of annual tuition benefits paid on your behalf to the Office of Human Resources. For some assistantships, any amount more than $5,250 is taxable income. This amount will be added to the taxable income on your Dec. 20, 2019, paycheck and will increase your tax liability and possibly your federal income tax deduction. This amount does not increase your net pay. If you want to change your W-4 to prevent/lessen the withholding amount, the form is here. This form must be returned to Human Resources by 4:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in order to process on the Dec. 20 paycheck. If you have questions contact Human Resources at (931) 372-3034 or email

Explanation of how the IRS treats GAs: Tuition benefits offered to graduate assistants are generally excluded from taxable income under section 117(d) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). However, section 117(d) only excludes from taxable income tuition benefits for graduate students who are engaged in teaching activities or research activities at the University. Graduate assistants not engaged in such teaching or research activities at the university and, therefore, tuition benefits that exceed $5,250 in a calendar year cannot be excluded from taxable income under section 117(d).

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