Call Congress THIS WEEK to tell them not to use tax reform to make graduate medical education more expensive for the next generation of orthodontic students, or new doctors with outstanding student loans.
 

Congressional Action on Tax Reform

As Congress begins to work to resolve its differences between the House- and Senate-passed tax reform packages, the American Association of Orthodontists wants you to be aware of our ongoing advocacy efforts related to federal tax reform and encourage you to get involved. We are sending a letter to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), who will co-chair the conference committee working to resolve differences and agree on a final bill over the next week or so.
 

How it Impacts You

As you may know, the House Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA, H.R. 1) would eliminate several tax benefits which some of you may currently receive or have previously taken advantage of.  The Senate bill does NOT have these three provisions, which include:
 
  • Sec. 1201: Repeal of Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC), while not substantially increasing the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). The LLC provides a credit for 20 percent of up to $10,000 of qualified education expenses for postsecondary education. While there is no limit on the number of years the LLC may be claimed for each student, it does have an income phase out (between $56,000 and $66,000 and $112,000 and $132,000 for joint filers). The bill would eliminate the LLC while enhancing the AOTC slightly so that it would provide a 100 percent tax credit for the first $2,000 of certain higher education expenses and a 25 percent tax credit for the next $2,000 of such expenses. The AOTC would be available for a fifth year of post-secondary education at half the rate as the first four years.
     
  • Sec. 1204: Repeal of the Student Loan Interest Deduction (SLID). H.R. 1 would repeal the above-the-line deduction for interest payments on qualified education loans for qualified higher education expenses of the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, or dependents. The maximum amount of the deduction is $2,500, and only taxpayers with certain modified adjusted gross income qualify (phases out between $65,000 and $80,000 for individual filers, and between $135,000 and $165,000 for joint filers for 2017).
     
  • Sec. 1204: Repeal of Qualified Tuition Reductions. Under current law, qualified tuition reductions provided by educational institutions to their employees, spouses, or dependents are excluded from income. The exclusion may be provided in the form of either reduced tuition or cash. These may not apply to graduate programs, except for a graduate student who is teaching or a research assistant.
 
If your current tax status would be affected by these items, we understand your concern and are working to try to prevent the foregoing from becoming law.
 
While the House TCJA would double the standard deduction to $12,000 for individual filers (and $24,000 for joint filers), we understand that those of you who are affected are concerned about losing the benefits noted above. The Senate TCJA (S. 1) keeps intact each of the education benefits above while also doubling the standard deduction. In other words, the Senate bill is likely more favorable for orthodontic residents, students and young doctors with significant student loan debt.
 

What You Can Do

If you are impacted or concerned by any of the above provisions that would be eliminated in the House bill, we urge you to contact your Representative and Senators to ask that the final conferenced tax reform package retain the Senate language, which preserves important benefits for graduate students and recent graduates. Include how this impacts you and your family directly. Congress is in the final stretch to agree on a final bill, and your voice matters!
 
You can find your Senator, by clicking here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
 
You can find your Representative, by clicking here:  https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
 
Do not hesitate to reach out to the AAO with any questions or if we can be of assistance - we are happy to help you get the word out. Below is a sample email/call template you can use for your outreach.   Action should be taken before Friday December 8, if possible, as we expect the conferencing process to move quickly. We encourage a phone call as the best method of communication or you can send the sample email below. 
 
###
 
SAMPLE TEXT FOR CONGRESSIONAL OUTREACH (if calling the Congressional office to relay this information, be sure to ask to speak to the staff member who handles tax issues, though you may have to leave a detailed message with the person at the front desk instead)
**Please personalize to tell your story.**
 
Good morning/afternoon/evening,
 
My name is ______, and I live in [city, state]. As the House and Senate work to resolve differences between their respective tax reform packages (H.R. 1 and S. 1), I urge you to retain the Senate language that protects graduate student and borrower benefits. These benefits currently make an enormous impact on my financial stability and ability to repay my loans. For example, I am an orthodontist/orthodontic resident and currently have $[enter student loan amount] in student loan debt. If I were no longer able to [deduct the interest paid on that amount/deduct a minimal amount of my graduate school costs/exclude from income my tuition waiver], it would compound the burden I already face with my current debt load. These benefits provide extra incentive to help me repay my loans sooner. Future borrowers may be dissuaded from entering the field altogether.
 
Thank you for your attention and I hope you will work to preserve these important student borrower benefits.  If I can be of further assistance to you on these issues, please contact me at [phone number/email].
 
Sincerely,
[your name]
 
Dec. 6, 2017

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AAO President Dr. Nahid Maleki with
Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)
On Tuesday, October 10th, Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculation Act (H.R. 4001) to the 115th Congress.  The American Association of Orthodontists recently spearheaded efforts to encourage the introduction of this legislation, involving 14 other dental groups.
 
If Congress votes to pass the Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculation Act, it would provide parity in the ability to refinance student loans and would ensure that the federal government does not profit from student borrowers.

“Orthodontists now graduate with an average of $365,000 in student loans. The AAO supports this legislation because it focuses on reducing the enormous debt load our residents and graduates currently face,” says Dr. Nahid Maleki, President of the American Association of Orthodontists. “Reducing interest rates and fees and allowing refinancing for today’s graduates are critical steps to helping them repay these loans sooner and more efficiently so they can begin to invest in their futures and careers.”
 
Key features of the Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculation Act include: 
  • Allowing borrowers to refinance their student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note rate, plus one percent, throughout the lifetime of the loan.
  • Eliminating origination fees and instead setting future student loan interest rates at the 10-year Treasury note rate, plus one percent.
  •  Delaying student loan interest rate accrual for many low- and middle-income borrowers while they are in school.
  • Allowing borrowers in medical or dental residencies to defer payments until the completion of their programs.
 
Oct. 10, 2017

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Dr. Nahid Maleki with Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)
AAO recently spearheaded an effort, which involved 14 other dental groups, who all endorsed proposed legislation in the 115th Congress, that would allow graduates to more efficiently pay back student loans.  Led by a bipartisan coalition, including Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), the proposed legislation would provide parity in the ability to refinance student loans and would ensure that the federal government does not profit from student borrowers.
 
The AAO recently wrote an official letter of endorsement, also signed by numerous other dental-related organizations.  Key features of the Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculation Act include:
  • Allowing borrowers to refinance their student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note rate, plus one percent, throughout the lifetime of the loan.
  • Eliminating origination fees and instead set future student loan interest rates at the 10-year Treasury note rate, plus one percent.
  • Delaying student loan interest rate accrual for many low- and middle-income borrowers while they are in school.
  • Allowing for borrowers in medical or dental residencies to defer payments until the completion of their programs.
The letter notes that dental specialty graduates, such as orthodontists, have some of the highest average debt loads of any borrowers. If passed, the Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculation Act would create changes to the federal student loan program, which would allow all student borrowers to more efficiently pay back their loans, while also allowing them to make other important investments in their careers and futures (such as starting their own orthodontic practices).
 
AAO members can view a full copy of the letter by clicking here.
Sep. 6, 2017

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Dr. DeWayne McCamish with
Senator Kelly Ayotte (NH),
RAISE Act Co-Sponsor.
 
AAO President DeWayne McCamish recently visited Washington, D.C. to promote the AAO’s RAISE Act and meet with lawmakers whose actions impact the practice of orthodontics.
 
In addition to gaining three new co-sponsors for the RAISE Act, (Representative Bill Flores (TX), Representative Brett Guthrie (KY), Senator Roy Blunt (MO)) Dr. McCamish has also been discussing issues critical to orthodontists, including the need for:
  • A permanent repeal of the Medical Device Tax 
  • Tax reforms benefitting small businesses
  • Decreasing the debt load for orthodontic residents
To learn more about the RAISE Act, revisit AAO Business of Orthodontics Podcast (Episode 14) which includes updates on the legislation (Segment 2 starting @ 14:00). 

View photos of Dr. McCamish's visit at https://www.instagram.com/aaoinfo/



 
Sep. 21, 2016

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The application period for the Emerging Leaders Conference has ended.  Thank you for your interest.


WHERE: Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
WHEN: Thursday, February 9, the day before the AAO Winter Conference, “Technology: Balancing Profit, Lifestyle and Patient Care”
APPLICATION DEADLINE:  The Application deadline was September 15, 2016.


Who is eligible to attend the Emerging Leaders Conference?

The conference will be limited to 75 emerging AAO leaders from the following categories:
  • 2nd and 3rd year residents (must be an AAO member)
  • Members in practice for 10 years or less, who are not/have not been involved in AAO volunteer leadership
  • Members in practice for more than 10 years, who are not/have not been involved in AAO volunteer leadership


What will I get out of the conference?

  • Skills and encouragement to seek volunteer involvement with the AAO at the local, regional or national levels;
  • An understanding of how to apply leadership concepts that can help you think strategically and tactically now and throughout your career;
  • The opportunity to discuss AAO critical issues and have input as to direction and priorities of the association;
  • Knowledge of AAO consumer marketing initiatives and the opportunity to provide input to help promote the My Life. My Smile. My Orthodontist.® brand;
  • Knowledge of membership communication and outreach tools and the opportunity to provide input to help the AAO leadership better understand how to best engage members;
  • Connections with peers and association leaders for the development of lifetime professional relationships;
  • An understanding of how to transform practice and association strategic vision, structure and governance, capabilities, talent development, and operational execution to become more socially enabled;
  • Attendees will be able to take these leadership tools and use them in their private practice.
  • View a video recap of the 2015 Emerging Leaders Conference.


Who will be speaking at the conference?

Learn about our keynote speaker, Andrew Miller.


What is the cost of attending?

Most travel, hotel, meals and program costs will be covered by the AAO*, including the following:
  • Two night’s hotel accommodations; Arrive on February 8 and depart on February 10, unless you decide to stay for the Winter Conference. Cost for hotel in excess of two nights is the responsibility of the individual;
  • Roundtrip airfare up to $400; Any $ amount over that is the responsibility of the individual;
  • All meals associated with the Emerging Leaders Conference will be covered.
* Note: Emerging Leaders Conference participants who stay for the AAO Winter Conference are responsible for paying the Winter Conference registration fee.
Aug. 25, 2016

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