At the first Associated Students Senate meeting of the 2012-13 school year last night, student senators tackled weighty topics including tax issues with student honoraria as well as a local spike in crime.
The Senate’s Fall quarter began by swearing in two new Letters and Sciences Collegiate Senators, second- year Ashkon Rahbari and fourth-year Adrian Orozco. After introductions from certain student leaders and a failed motion to break the meeting to watch the 2012 Presidential Debates, the meeting moved on to discuss honoraria, the UC Office of the President tax and the growing concern for safety in I.V.
A.S. Executive Director Marisela Marquez addressed the board with summer updates, including the tax issues A.S. is facing from the IRS.
“These issues are legal and will impact the association. I’ve been managing these issues on your behalf for many years. As a nonprofit, typically we file 990s, a form you file with the IRS to state all transactions that you manage with your nonprofit status. Most governmental agencies are exempt from filing these. A.S. and UCSB are government agencies as well as nonprofits. When we separated from the UCen, they did not continue to file their 990s separately. The UCen files together with the university, so the university and UCen are okay. A.S. needs to clarify if they need to file one or not; we decided last year that we would go ahead and file one, and we did, while having the IRS ‘re-determine’ our status.”
The IRS also expressed concern over student senators earning honoraria as “independent con- tractors,” a legal status Marquez insists is defensible.
“Last spring, we received a letter from the IRS on another matter,” Marquez said. “As you all know, you earn honoraria, essentially as independent contractors. The IRS has taken issue with that and has determined that we should probably not do that anymore. The IRS determined that we should be hiring students as student employees who receive honoraria instead of students as independent contractors — we have been fighting that. They made this determination without ever hearing from us. We have a set of attorneys locally and the UCOP attorneys. It would severely impact how we do business, and so we are fighting it; I am preparing a statement to send to the IRS.”
According to Marquez, UCSB’s honoraria dealings became an issue when students who filed taxes reported both income received as student employees along with compensation received through honoraria. Marquez stood by the statement that since students each must manage their own time commitments, they could be classified as independent.
In other tax news, A.S. President Sophia Armen updated the students of the Senate on the 1.69 percent UCOP tax that was implemented last year at all UC campuses in an effort to restructure the funding stream of the Office of the President.
It currently remains unclear whether student-funded referenda will be taxed, though Armen said she plans to work with Marquez and the rest of the association to protect lock-in fees from undue taxation.