Thursday, August 20, 2009

That's not a bug, that's a feature.

The East Valley Tribune recently concluded a reasonably good three-part investigative feature on Arizona's tuition tax credit scheme.

For those who don't remember, Arizona doesn't give a parent tax credit for those sending their kids to private school. But it does give tax credits to donors to "School Tuition Organizations" which then give "scholarships" to students attending private school. It actually forbids parents to make "donations" to their own children or any specific children.

The Trib's findings: Schools "highly encouraged" parents of enrolled children to make contributions restricted to benefiting their school and to recruit others to do the same.

Did anyone not see that coming? Parents, faced with having to make double payments for education (one for their kids via tuition fees and another for everyone else's via taxes) work with schools and STOs to find a way to some temporary and incomplete relief, and it's treated as a surprise? Come on, quit being so naive. And quit treating this behavior as corruption--that's as ridiculous as complaining about illegal aliens giving fake SSNs to employers. The law forces people to act like schemers in their search for simple fair treatment.

My recommendation is the same as it has been since I launched this 'blog: eliminate the STO program and establish an individual tax credit, which provides dollar-for-dollar tax relief, capped per child at the amount the State spends per pupil, for parents, grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, or anyone else who pays the private-school expenses for a particular child.

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