H. R. 395
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
January 23, 2013
Mr. Israel (for himself, Mr. King of New York, Ms. Norton, Mr. Hanna, and Mr. Cicilline) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude from gross income amounts paid by an employer on an employee’s student loans.
This Act may be cited as the
Student Loan Employment Benefits Act
Student loan payment assistance programs
Part III of subchapter B of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after section 127 the following new section:
Student loan payment assistance programs
Gross income of an employee does not include amounts paid or incurred by the employer for student loan payment assistance provided to such employee if the assistance is furnished pursuant to a program which is described in subsection (c).
The amount taken into account under subsection (a) with respect to an individual for student loan assistance with respect to student loan payments during a taxable year shall not exceed $5,000.
Earned income limitation
The amount excluded from the income of an employee under subsection (a) for any taxable year shall not exceed the earned income of such employee for such taxable year.
Student loan payment assistance program
For purposes of this section a student loan payment assistance program is a separate written plan of an employer for the exclusive benefit of his employees to provide such employees with student loan payment assistance which meets the requirements of paragraphs (2) through (9) of this subsection. If any plan would qualify as a student loan payment assistance program but for a failure to meet the requirements of this subsection, then, notwithstanding such failure, such plan shall be treated as a student loan payment assistance program in the case of employees who are not highly compensated employees.
The contributions or benefits provided under the plan shall not discriminate in favor of employees who are highly compensated employees (within the meaning of section 414(q)).
The program shall benefit employees who qualify under a classification set up by the employer and found by the Secretary not to be discriminatory in favor of employees described in paragraph (2).
Principal shareholders or owners
Not more than 25 percent of the amounts paid or incurred by the employer for student loan payment assistance during the year may be provided for the class of individuals who are shareholders or owners (or their spouses or dependents), each of whom (on any day of the year) owns more than 5 percent of the stock or of the capital or profits interest in the employer.
No funding required
A program referred to in paragraph (1) is not required to be funded.
Notification of eligible employees
Reasonable notification of the availability and terms of the program shall be provided to eligible employees.
Statement of expenses
The plan shall furnish to an employee, on or before January 31, a written statement showing the amounts paid or expenses incurred by the employer in providing student loan payment assistance to such employee during the previous calendar year.
A plan meets the requirements of this paragraph if the average benefits provided to employees who are not highly compensated employees under all plans of the employer is at least 55 percent of the average benefits provided to highly compensated employees under all plans of the employer.
Salary reduction agreements
For purposes of subparagraph (A), in the case of any benefits provided through a salary reduction agreement, a plan may disregard any employees whose compensation is less than $25,000. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term compensation has the meaning given such term by section 414(q)(4), except that, under rules prescribed by the Secretary, an employer may elect to determine compensation on any other basis which does not discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees.
For purposes of paragraphs (3) and (8), there shall be excluded from consideration—
employees not included in a student loan payment assistance program who are included in a unit of employees covered by an agreement which the Secretary finds to be a collective bargaining agreement between employee representatives and 1 or more employees, if there is evidence that student loan payment benefits were the subject of good faith bargaining between such employee representatives and such employer or employers.
Definitions and special rules
For purposes of this section—
Student loan payment assistance
The term student loan payment assistance means the payment of principal or interest on—
any indebtedness incurred by the employee solely to pay qualified higher education expenses (as defined in section 221) which—
are paid or incurred within a reasonable period of time before or after the indebtedness was incurred, and
are attributable to education furnished during a period during which the employee was an eligible student, or
any indebtedness used to refinance indebtedness described in clause (i).
The term eligible student has the meaning given such term by section 25A(b)(3).
The term dependent has the meaning given such term by section 152 (determined without regard to subsections (b)(1), (b)(2), and (d)(1)(B) thereof).
The term earned income shall have the meaning given such term in section 32(c)(2), but such term shall not include any amounts paid or incurred by an employer for student loan payment assistance to an employee.
The term employee includes, for any year, an individual who is an employee within the meaning of section 401(c)(1) (relating to self-employed individuals).
An individual who owns the entire interest in an unincorporated trade or business shall be treated as his own employer. A partnership shall be treated as the employer of each partner who is an employee within the meaning of paragraph (3).
Ownership of stock
Interest in unincorporated trade or business
The interest of an employee in a trade or business which is not incorporated shall be determined in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary, which shall be based on principles similar to the principles which apply in the case of subparagraph (A).
Utilization test not applicable
A student loan payment assistance program shall not be held or considered to fail to meet any requirements of subsection (c) (other than paragraphs (4) and (8) thereof) merely because of utilization rates for the different types of assistance made available under the program.
Disallowance of excluded amounts as credit or deduction
No deduction or credit shall be allowed to the employee under any other section of this chapter for any amount excluded from the gross income of the employee by reason of this section.
The table of sections for part III of subchapter B of chapter 1 of such Code is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 127 the following new item:
Sec. 127A. Student loan payment assistance programs.
The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act.