September 17, 2021

Van Hollen, Davis Applaud Inclusion of American Opportunity Tax Credit Fix in House Reconciliation Proposal

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.) applauded the House Ways & Means Committee’s passage of their bipartisan proposal to repeal the lifetime ban preventing students with felony drug convictions from receiving the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). The AOTC is the primary tax credit available to students seeking a higher education; however, students with a felony drug conviction are permanently ineligible from using the credit. This backwards requirement makes it more difficult to ensure successful reentry for those who have served their time by limiting their ability to advance their education and pursue a career. The Members had previously introduced the Eliminating Discrimination and Creating Corridors to Expand Student Success Act of 2019 (ED ACCESS Act) to fix this inequity by repealing the lifetime ban. The proposal was included in the House Ways & Means Committee’s passage of their portion of the Build Back Better Act.

Banning individuals with felony drug convictions from ever receiving a key tax credit toward enrolling in college violates the principle of giving people a second chance after they have served their time. That’s why Rep. Danny Davis and I introduced the bipartisan ED ACCESS Act to repeal this ban on students who have been convicted of felony drug offenses from claiming the American Opportunity Tax Credit. I’m pleased to see the House Ways and Means Committee include this important provision in the reconciliation bill as a means to help these individuals obtain a post-secondary education and ultimately contribute to our workforce and economy. We must provide students with every opportunity to succeed in achieving a higher education and pursuing a better life — this is one way we can do that,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Encouraging education for people with records is a smart, cost-effective investment of taxpayer dollars. I am proud to have worked closely with Senator Chris Van Hollen to bipartisanly champion repealing the lifetime ban on the American Opportunity Tax Credit for individuals with a felony drug conviction, a proposal that was passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee as part of its legislation to Build Back Better.  Helping people with records get the education they need makes it easier for people to succeed and get their lives back on track.  Removing this barrier would promote education, successful reentry, economic well-being, and labor force participation – which is why dozens of conservative and progressive organizations support this approach,” said Representative Davis.