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House Bill 2260: Tax Credit for Homeschoolers
Karen S. Johnson (R), District 18
House Bill 2260 would provide a $1,500 tax credit for parents who operate a homeschool pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes §15-802. This would be the nation's largest tax credit for home education.
This bill was introduced to the House on January 15, 2003. On January 20, it was assigned to the following House committees: Ways and Means, Education, Appropriations, and Rules. According to her staff, Representative Karen Johnson went to the House Education Committee Chairman on January 28, 2003 to request that her bill not be heard this year. It has been effectively tabled for the remainder of the legislative session.
- Please send Representative Johnson a short e-mail or letter thanking her for her efforts to help homeschoolers. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Her mailing address is House of Representatives, 1700 W. Washington, Room 222, Phoenix, AZ 85007.
- If you are interested in pursuing tax relief in years to come, we encourage you to contact your own legislator to ask them whether they support tax relief for homeschool and private school families.
Support. HSLDA supports the general concept of this bill, even though it may need some adjustments and even though it may not pass this year.
In light of Arizona's current budget situation, homeschool leaders in the state have decided that now is not the best time to call for this tax relief. While a homeschool tax credit would save Arizona money in the long run, we do not want to put legislators who support homeschooling in the difficult position of voting for something that would appear to make the budget problems worse.
Homeschoolers currently pay for the public education system while they privately educate their own children. This "double taxation" is unfair. While almost all homeschoolers would like to be free of the tax burden of public schools they do not use, a significant number of homeschool leaders are concerned about any effort to get benefits from the government. Most homeschool leaders agree that vouchers (direct payments from the government to private or homeschools) are unacceptable.
Under Arizona law, however, no state money or property may be used "in aid of any church, or private or sectarian school, or any public service corporation." Arizona Constitution Article 9, Section 10. The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that a tax credit is not "state money or property," so that tax credits may be used to support religious instruction where voucher money could not be so used. The Arizona Supreme Court has already upheld the scholarship tax credit, which allows taxpayers to donate money to be used to provide free education in private schools.
House Bill 2260 is a tax credit, not a voucher, and is therefore acceptable to most homeschoolers. There is some question about Subsection C of the bill, which provides for a "refundable" tax credit. The opponents of school choice might argue that a "refundable" tax credit is really a voucher, since it provides state money to people who pay no taxes. HSLDA recommends eliminating the "refundable" portion of the tax credit, or inserting a "severability clause" to make sure that the entire tax credit is not struck down just because some non-taxpayers get state money.
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