January 28, 2003

Arizona Proposes Tax Credit for Homeschoolers

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.

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.

We expect the opposition to this bill to be extreme. While the chances of passage this year are not that good, this provides an excellent opportunity to find out where your own legislator stands on the subject of school choice in general, and homeschooling in particular.

HSLDA supports the general concept of this bill, even though it may need some adjustments. This credit may make it possible for many families to homeschool that couldn't do so otherwise. We encourage individual families, local support groups, and state organizations to communicate with one another as they work on this legislation. By hard work and careful communication, homeschoolers may be able to advance freedom despite the predictable opposition of the public school establishment.

For more information on this legislation visit: