North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr proposed a tax on scholarships for college athletes after he voted for a massive tax cut for the rich.
"If college athletes are going to make money off their likenesses while in school, their scholarships should be treated like income," Burr tweeted on Tuesday. "I'll be introducing legislation that subjects scholarships given to athletes who choose to 'cash in' to income taxes."
Burr did not elaborate on any details and his office did not respond to outlets’ requests for comment.
Mark Kantrowitz, a college scholarship expert, was puzzled, pointing out that “Scholarships are already taxed like income.”
“A college scholarship is nontaxable only if it’s used on tuition and textbooks,” CNBC reported. “If it’s applied to room, board or transportation — which make up half of college costs — it can be taxed as much as 37%.”
“The taxes on scholarships prevent students from making full use of their scholarships,” Kantrowitz told the network.
Burr threat comes after NCAA rule change:
Burr’s tweet came after the NCAA announced that it would begin to take steps to allow athletes to “benefit” from the use of their name and image.
"In the Association's continuing efforts to support college athletes, the NCAA's top governing board voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model," the NCAA said in a statement.
The move came after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill allowing students in the state to be paid for the use of their name and image.
The NCAA brings in over $1 billion in profits per year.
Burr wants taxes for students, not billionaires:
Burr’s comment was particularly surprising because he has been known as an anti-tax hawk, at least when it comes to the wealthy.
Burr was a leading advocate for the 2017 Republican tax cuts, which overwhelmingly benefited the rich and corporations.
He previously voted against raising taxes on people making over $1 million per year and later voted in favor of raising the exemption for the inheritance tax from $1 million to $5 million.