Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Do Homeschoolers WANT a Tax Break?

An article in the New York Times Opinion Pages has supporters and critics of homeschooling debating the idea of giving homeschoolers tax credits.  While having a few extra dollars in our pockets might seem like a great idea, a tax break that comes with "strings attached" could mean more trouble than the money is worth.

It's likely that tax credits for homeschoolers would not be offered without strings.  Our puppet legislators, and the lobbyists who pull their strings, are not in the business of doing favors for homeschoolers.  Money isn't free. And it's what comes with the money that would have many homeschoolers questioning whether or not they want to check the credit box on their tax return. 

So is there Room for Debate...Do Homeschoolers Deserve a Tax Break?  Read the debate and decide for yourself.

UPDATED:  Find some additional commentary on this debate on Spunky HomeSchool's blog HERE!

(Come back and let us know what YOU think!)


  1. The article said "currently only three states -- Illinois, Louisiana and Minnesota -- allow some benefit for home schooling." I was a bit confused what that tax break was - since I'm from Minnesota - so I read a bit more. So I had a "duh" moment because we do get that "tax credit" which is described here: "Education tax credits and tax deductions both reduce a family’s tax liability. For example, Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota offer various tax credits and deductions for education-related expenses, including private school tuition and payments for instructional materials." I found that from this article

    So yes, we do get tax credits - any money that I spend on schooling, etc is credited (oddly her piano lessons count - but sports are not credited). One year I was asked to "prove" what I spent; so I spent hours organizing receipts, copying and sending them off - and ended up getting more money back. So far - here - there have been no "strings attached" to the tax benefit. HOWEVER, there is another benefit that is available and that is purchasing school material (I think there is a minimal amount available) sending the receipt to the school district and they will pay for it. THAT has a string attached - the school district owns that material. The families I know that do this buy consumable products (workbooks that are used up) because the school won't ask for that.

    Now the Virtual School in Minnesota I personally call "public school at home". Many of the dyed hard homeschoolers don't consider that being homeschooled. The school district provides a computer and printer and a teacher monitor. There are several families that I have been in contact with that have used this.

    When I was a Guardian ad Litem in the court system there was one family that went this route because of bullying issues at school (although there was debate on who the bully was ;) Anyway - for them it was a good choice.

    I think virtual schools (public school at home) are good if you want that education but want to avoid the social aspect of public school. And since it is "public school" with public money - I agree that there should be strings attached: taking their tests, etc.

    And that is my opinion :)

  2. The only tax credit we ever received was the $250 given to any teacher for personal expenses for the classroom. I hear this is also being taken away this year. The public school teachers should be throwing a fit. I don't expect the government to give me a tax break for a choice I made.

  3. "...[For those who welcome the subsidy]their children will benefit twice, both from the financial help and from the results-based accountability."
    Interesting. Results-based accountability is a benefit? My kids already have to test in our state. I have to stop everything we're doing for two weeks and work with them on testing skills, review their math and English so they will understand the language used in the test, and then spend hours going over their light pencil marks to make sure the test bubbles are filled in completely (apparently, my kids could never pass bubble coloring.) The test results never tell me anything I didn't know because I'm always with my kids. I know what weaknesses they have.

    Yes, it would be wonderful to have a subsidy. Perhaps I could afford a few extras that I usually forgo because money is tight. But I will not sacrifice my freedom to allow my children to learn at their own pace in their own way. My family is not rich. We live in the most taxed county in the country on one income. If we can afford to homeschool, anyone can. It involves prioritizing (not having the latest whatever) and using the subsidies already provided (the library and free online resources). If you truly want to do something, you do it. You don't make excuses why you can't. I love that I have the freedom to homeschool. I want to keep it that way--free from the bureaucracy of accountability.

    Sorry. I'll get off the soapbox now. :o)

    Peace and Laughter!

  4. Just to add: The quote at the beginning was from Chester E. Finn, Jr. "Yes, But Tests Are Necessary"

  5. "...[For those who welcome the subsidy]their children will benefit twice, both from the financial help and from the results-based accountability."

    Don't you just love the presumptions in that quote that "results-based accountability" is something that 1.) homeschooled children aren't getting, and 2.) homeschooled children need?

    I wonder if Mr. Finn can demonstrate to me how "Results-based accountability" is helping the schools?

    Mr. Finn? Yeah...I didn't think so. :-)

  6. I have no interets in a tax credit for homeschooling. I pay my taxes and only ask to be left alone to teach my children as I see fit.