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Education

President May Soon Issue Executive Order on Campus Free Speech

President Trump announced over the weekend plans to issue an executive order that would withhold federal research funds to colleges that do not support free speech. The president did not offer details on how the executive order would work or who will determine whether an institution violated free speech, but he referenced incidents at the University of California, Berkeley for declaring the order. In response to the proposed executive order, the American Council on Education’s Terry Hartle said he was curious how a federal agency would try to enforce the order and suggested that some people may create incidents just. Read More.

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Senate Working to Increase Federal Grants and Contracts for HBCUs

A new bill receiving unanimous Senate approval aims to help historically black colleges and universities (“HBCUs”) secure more federal grants and contracts. The HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Toward a New Era of Results for Students (HBCU PARTNERS Act) requires applicable agencies to present to Congress their annual plans for supporting the capacity of HBCUs to take part in federal grants, contracts or cooperative agreements. Another Senate-backed effort seeking to give HBCU funding is the reauthorization of the HBCU Historic Preservation Program. This bill would permit grant funding to repair deteriorating historic buildings at HBCUs and bring buildings up to code. Read More.

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Tuition Revenue Recognition Guidance Issued

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (“NACUBO”) has released a new advisory using tuition to illustrate guidance under Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) Topic 606, Revenue From Contracts With Customers. Accounting Advisory 19-01, FASB ASC 606, Revenue From Contracts with Customers: Tuition Revenue, states that a student’s signed financial responsibility agreement authorizes a college or university to consideration, in exchange for promised services, on the date payment is due. The advisory also explains various terms and requirements, including performance obligations, portfolio approach and contract liabilities. More on this Accounting Advisory is available on the NACUBO website.

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IRS Issues Parking Tax Preliminary Guidance

Back in December, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) issued preliminary guidance that proposes clarifications to when nonprofit organizations should pay a 21 percent unrelated business income tax on employer expenses associated with employee parking. The notice tells nonprofits to use a four-step calculus for applying a value on taxable parking spaces. Another notice permits tax penalty waivers for nonprofits that did not submit quarterly estimated tax payments regarding those transportation benefits. The IRS had not issued any guidance or relief for applying the tax on other transportation benefits like subway or bus passes. Nonprofits impacted by the tax on parking expenses can submit comments. Read More.

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IRS Proposes Guidance for Taxing Highly Compensated Employees

After issuing preliminary guidance clarifying when nonprofits must pay the 21 percent unrelated business income tax related to employee parking, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) has published Notice 2019-09 explaining when nonprofit employers should pay the 21 percent tax on employees with an annual compensation above $1 million. The preliminary guidance advises nonprofits to use the calendar year ending within their fiscal year to calculate the tax. In addition, nonprofits cannot avoid the tax by dividing highly compensated employees’ compensation between multiple related organizations. Comments on the noticed are due Tuesday, April 2.

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Provosts Survey Covers Impact of Me Too Movement on Campuses

This year’s Inside Higher Ed Survey of Chief Academic Officers marks the first time the survey features questions concerning the Me Too movement. The 2019 edition reflects answers from 475 provosts and chief academic officers while they face pressure to address harassment issues on college campuses. Some survey’s highlights include: 46 percent of provosts reported having at least one faculty member facing harassment allegations in the past year. 69 percent of provosts agree that higher education has tolerated harassment by faculty members for far too long. Click here for more on the 2019 Inside Higher Ed Survey of Chief Academic Officers.

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