Federal Legislation
June 30, 2008

S. 3076—The Home School Opportunities Make Education Sound Act (HOMES Act)

Action Requested:
HSLDA is monitoring this legislation and will send out updates as the bill moves through Congress.

Background:
The goal of the HOMES Act is to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide an optional tax deduction for parents who choose to homeschool their children. The legislation would help alleviate the financial burden incurred by many homeschooling families by providing a tax deduction of $500 per child (with an annual limit of $2,000) for education related expenses, including books, supplies, academic tutoring, special needs services, and computer equipment. Families who do not itemize their tax returns would still be eligible for a similar standard deduction. Furthermore, this legislation would apply to all homeschool programs, including those in states that only have a private school statute.

As some of HSLDA’s members have expressed concern in regard to our support of the HOMES Act, we would like to clarify the effects of this bill. First and foremost, this legislation would not create a federal definition of homeschooling. HSLDA strongly opposes any federal definition of homeschooling and will continue to oppose any legislation that seeks to increase government control over education. The HOMES Act is simply a federal tax deduction bill that would create a tax deduction to help relieve the additional financial burden incurred by families who homeschool. This is not a voucher program, but rather a standard tax deduction, just like any other type of federal tax deduction, such as those for business expenses and charitable donations. While the IRS would define what constitutes a homeschool expense, it will not, in any way, create a definition for homeschooling. Hence, this bill would not expand government control over homeschooling, but, on the contrary, give homeschool families an optional opportunity to deduct a portion of their homeschool expenses from their federal income tax.

HSLDA’s involvement on the federal level is to defend the right to homeschool and to protect homeschool families from intrusive government legislation. We want to make it clear that our presence in Washington, D.C. is not an endorsement of the federal government having a role in education. On the contrary, we recognize that we live in an imperfect world in which we must guard against government interference in the upbringing and education of our children by actively defending our right to homeschool. In today’s society in which the federal government increasingly seeks to supplant the family unit, it is crucial that now, more than ever, we make our voices heard and fight for the preservation of our God given rights.

Legislative History:
For years homeschooling families have paid a disproportionately high cost for education related expenses, as parents who homeschool their children fund not only their own educational materials but also continue to finance public education via their tax dollars. Hence, homeschool parents incur an inequitable financial burden in regard to their children’s education. The HOMES Act would help families afford homeschool materials and ensure that homeschool students enjoy similar rights and treatment to students enrolled in public education. If passed, this legislation would be the first time that the federal tax code provided homeschooling families with a tax deduction for homeschool expenses.

Introduced: 6/3/2008 Introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

Sponsor: Senator David Vitter (LA)

Bill Summary and Status: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:s.03076:

HSLDA's Position:
Support.