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February 25, 2009

Senate Bill 221: Property Tax Credit for Private School Tuition

Author:
Senator Kevin Lundberg

Summary:
For a total of four property tax years, creates a property tax credit for tuition payments to an independent or parochial school or other educational expenses for a student who previously attended a public school. This credit applies to anyone who chooses to homeschool, or to anyone who chooses to enroll in a satellite with a private school. The credit is $1,000 for those students who were enrolled full-time in the public school, and $500 for those students who were enrolled part-time in the public school.

Status:

2/16/2009(Senate) Introduced—Referred to State, Veterans, and Military Affairs, Finance
2/23/2009(Senate) Postponed Indefinitely

HSLDA’s Position:
HSLDA supports this bill.

Action Requested:
None requested at this time.

Background:
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 themselves, 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 because of the controls and loss of freedom that comes with the money.

As an alternative, HSLDA recommends another vehicle: educational tax credits. Parents and individuals who provide for a child’s education should be allowed to keep some of their tax money that would otherwise have been used to fund public education. This goal could be accomplished through a tax credit.

Educational tax credit legislation can typically be divided into two categories: tax credits for individuals or corporations who contribute to a non-profit scholarship fund and tax credits reimbursing parents for educational expenses incurred for their children. Arizona passed an educational tax credit law which falls into the first category while Minnesota and Illinois passed a tax credit falling into the second category.

Education tax credits offer several benefits:

  • Educational tax credits will give parents true choice in education. This tax credit will help reduce the “double tax burden” on parents who choose private or home education.
  • Education tax credits will benefit public schools. By encouraging students to attend private schools or homeschools, the tuition tax credit will reduce overcrowded public school class sizes and the student-to-teacher ratio, making more teachers available to public school students.
  • Education tax credits will benefit low-income families. Most educational tax credit proposals provide a credit for businesses and private individuals who contribute to a nonprofit scholarship fund, which are usually dedicated to helping low-income families. This type of credit provides an incentive to help give low-income families true choice in their children’s education.

For more information on educational tax credits, see our memorandum, “Why Are Educational Tax Credits Important?”

 Other Resources

Bill Text    (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Bill History