Phi Beta Cons

Re: School Choice Back in the Supreme Court

A quick word on “corporate tax-credit scholarship programs” such as the one in Arizona, from an NR piece I wrote a while back:

In a traditional voucher program, the government gives parents money to spend on private schools. But in the new programs, a corporation ponies up the cash, and gets a tax credit for a large portion of the donation. In Maryland, for example, that portion is 75 percent. Bear in mind that a tax credit is not the same as a tax deduction — if a Maryland corporation donates $1,000, it pays $750 less in taxes, instead of just deducting $750 from its taxable income. So, in effect, the government is paying most of the bill.

There can be an advantage to this method — Maryland forgoes only $750 in tax revenue for every $1,000 spent on school choice, instead of the full $1,000 it would pay in a normal voucher program. But it’s clear the more important advantage is political: Florida, for example, offers dollar-for-dollar credits, basically allowing corporations to direct their tax money to vouchers so politicians don’t have to.

I support vouchers for a variety of reasons, but this is a dishonest way to get them.

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