ERIC Number: ED570441
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
The Tax-Credit Scholarship Audit: Do Publicly Funded Private School Choice Programs Save Money?
Lueken, Martin F.
This report follows up on previous work that examined the fiscal effects of private school voucher programs. It estimates the total fiscal effects of tax-credit scholarship programs--another type of private school choice program--on state governments, state and local taxpayers, and school districts combined. Based on a range of assumptions, these programs generated between $1.7 billion and $3.4 billion in taxpayer savings through the 2013-14 school year. That is equivalent to up to $3,000 per scholarship student. In general, tax-credit scholarships allow taxpayers to receive full or partial tax credits when they donate to nonprofits that provide students with private school scholarships. Eligible taxpayers can include both individuals and businesses. Some supporters of tax-credit scholarships argue that they give taxpayers more freedom than vouchers to support the types of education that align with their values and preferences. Vouchers, on the other hand, "compel taxpayers to financially support forms of education to which they may object." For the period covered in this analysis, there were 21 tax-credit scholarship programs operating in 17 states. Of those, the author added 10 (covering seven states) in this report. All but two of the programs analyzed are the largest in the country. In total, the 10 programs that were analyzed represent 93 percent of all scholarships awarded in tax-credit scholarship programs today. Programs analyzed in this report are: (1) Arizona Original Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program; (2) Arizona Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program; (3) Arizona Lexie's Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax Credit Scholarship Program; (4) Arizona "Switcher" Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program; (5) Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program; (6) Georgia Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit; (7) Indiana School Scholarship Tax Credit; (8) Iowa School Tuition Organization Tax Credit; (9) Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program; and (10) Rhode Island Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations. There are certain challenges and considerations that generally apply to evaluating the fiscal impact of any school choice program. Two key factors that apply to all programs: (1) variable costs per student, meaning those costs that are directly associated with a given student and that would not be spent if that student were not enrolled; and (2) the number of students who would have attended public schools without the financial assistance from the tax-credit scholarship program (aka "switchers"). In some states, there is also a third factor: (3) the proportion of scholarships that are given to students who receive more than one scholarship. Appended are: (1) Scholarships Awarded in Tax-Credit Scholarship Programs; (2) Surveying Scholarship Organizations; (3) Considerations and Complicating Factors; and (4) Tax-Credit Scholarship Program Tax Credit Caps.
Descriptors: Educational Finance, Tax Credits, Educational Vouchers, Private Schools, Scholarships, School Choice, State Government, School Districts, Financial Support, Disabilities, Tuition, Federal Government, Geographic Location, Surveys
EdChoice. 111 Monument Circle Suite 2650, Indianapolis, IN 46204. Tel: 317-681-0745; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.edchoice.org
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Numerical/Quantitative Data
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Walton Family Foundation
Authoring Institution: EdChoice
Identifiers - Location: Arizona; Florida; Georgia; Indiana; Iowa; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island