Tax Credits For Private Schools

Since 2008 Georgia has allowed married taxpayers filing jointly to take up to $2,500 of their state taxes and redirect them to be used as scholarships for private schools.  Single filers can redirect up to $1,000, and anyone in the state can participate – not just parents with kids in school.

This amazing program, known as the Qualified Education Expense (QEE) Tax Credit, will actually give you a state tax credit -not just a deduction – for money that you designate for the school of your choice.  This credit extends even to religious schools, and since you donate the funds through a non-profit corporation (called a Student Scholarship Organization, or SSO) you can also take the donation as a deduction on your federal tax return.  Because it is a state tax credit, you get all the money you donate back next year when you file your taxes.  Plus you get the tax write off since the donation is made to a non-profit corporation.  For most taxpayers, this means they will actually make money if they can take advantage of this program!

For 2015 the State has allocated $58,000,000 in tax revenue that can be redirected into the hands of needy students at Georgia’s private schools.  Before you can make the donation you must make a request to participate in the program.  These tax credits are granted on a first come / first served basis, and for 2015 the State anticipates all credit will be allocated by January 10th – so please request the credit now.  If you are accepted you will have to make your donation by the end of January to have it count.

The scholarship is only available to students who are moving from a public school into a private school.  Gwinnett County pays over $11,000 per year per student, about half of which comes from state funds.  So every student that moves into or stays in a private school will actually save taxpayer money in the long run.  Note that while you get to select the school that receives the money, technically you are not allowed to designate the student receiving the scholarship.

Here is a link to the Georgia Department of Education website that explains the program:

http://www.gadoe.org/external-affairs-and-policy/policy/pages/tax-credit-program.aspx

It also has a list of all of the qualified SSOs that will walk you through the process.  For reference, here is a link to one of the non-profit companies that I have used for a number of years:

http://www.goalscholarship.org/

You can also contact your chosen private school and they will be able to give you information about the program and help you through the process.

NOTES: Representative David Casas was the author of this legislation (HB 1133, the Georgia Tuition Tax Credit Act) and the law explicitly states that if the beneficiary of the scholarship is a dependent of the taxpayer then there is no State tax credit.  It also states that any student receiving a scholarship must be enrolled in a public school at the time the money is given, although they can continue receiving scholarship money as long as they stay at the private school.

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