2015 Bills

Income Tax Credit for Home-schooling Families

To track the status of this bill, find it on our Legislation Tracker.
Click here to contact the sponsor of the bill to share your thoughts, or
click here to email your Senator and Representative about it.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Below is the executive summary for our policy analysis released last year, “Income Tax Credit for Home-schooling Families.” To read the entire report, click here. The resulting legislation is House Bill 134.

The Utah Constitution requires 100% of the state income tax to be used as revenue for government education services—“public” and “higher” education.

Families who choose to educate their children outside of this taxpayer-funded system must therefore pay for the education of others’ children before their own. Curriculum, learning kits, field trips, travel costs, and other necessary expenses are post-tax costs. The state, by imposing an income tax, requires these families to financially prioritize the education of other children first.

To encourage behavior by and minimize the tax burden on select segments of the citizenry, certain tax credits are currently offered by the state. Examples include adopting a special needs child, employing a veteran, or contributing to a medical savings account. We believe that home-schooling families should be added to this list, given the income tax’s direct connection to education funding. If these families do not utilize public schools, their mandate to help fund them should be reduced. These families will still be required to fund the public education system through property and federal taxes; our proposal only addresses the Utah state income tax.

Many parents claim enough deductions and/or credits that leads to their income tax burden being significantly reduced, if not eliminated. Our proposed tax credit would not apply to such situations, as it is a nonrefundable credit—money will not be given to families as a subsidy. If they owe no income tax, then they will receive no benefit. The credit only applies to those who do owe the tax.

These deductions may not always be in place, however. One Utah legislator has proposed eliminating the personal deduction, which would significantly increase the tax burden upon large home-schooling families—thereby making it even more difficult for them to fund their children’s educational needs.

Before helping to pay for the school costs of other children, Utah families should be allowed to meet their own family’s needs, and the current tax structure does not allow for this. Our proposal helps to remedy this imbalance.

Click here to continue reading.

  • MichaelStoddard

    Yes but what about those who PAY for private schools ???

  • MichaelStoddard Baby steps, unfortunately. Should there be good political support for this, then next year we may propose exactly that.

  • deggertsen

    MichaelStoddard It would be a bad idea for the government to get involved in helping to pay for private schools. A good idea would be to give tax breaks for money spent on private schools. Any time the money touches the government means that the school is now government controlled (public). I don’t want our private schools to become public schools. We already have those, they’re called charter schools.
    That said, this bill is a GREAT first step.

  • Barem

    Seems like a good initial step away from the current socialist system.

  • Vernon

    Do you know if property taxes or income taxes pay the majority of support of the local school districts?  I wonder if this shouldn’t be a property tax credit, rather than an income tax credit.  
    The net effect to the family receiving the credit is the same, but the impact on the State or local district budget could be significant, depending on the line item from which this $500 is to come.  

    Any insight on this, Connor?

  • @Vernon  The issue, as I see it, with a property tax credit is that a lot of homeschoolers such as myself currently rent. This would preclude our family from the income tax credit.

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  • I think you missed a major point, which is that homeschooling families are saving the government tons of money since their children are not a burden on the schools they would otherwise be attending. I think you’re already making great points, but if you added the point that we’re taking our kids out of the system, and rather than asking for 100% of what it costs to educate a child in the system be refunded, we’re only asking for a portion of it, and then only if the family is paying taxes to begin with, we’re really being quite generous. Under this arrangement it’s a win-win because the load on the system is lightened, the system still gets money, but the homeschooling family also gets some money back.

    Kind of makes you wonder why the state isn’t encouraging homeschooling like mad, since as it stands they get to keep all the money, whether they’re educating the kids or not.

  • ktg

    JoshuaSteimle I don’t think the state cares about saving money.  Indoctrination by the state is the goal.  Communist manifesto plank #10.

  • Homeschool Mom

    An article I read about 10 years ago on UHEA’s website addressed the issue of tax refunds for homeschoolers. I agree withe ideas they presented that if homeschoolers received tax refunds then there may be an increase in regulations and a lot of paperwork or possibly visits to homeschools to make sure that they are using “public” funds correctly.
    As a homeschool parent, I am willing to pay the cost of my own kids’ materials and taxes that fund public schools if that means we have the freedom to choose what to teach based on our childrens’ interests, needs, and apptitudes.

  • Jennrc3

    @Vernon We pay way more income tax than property tax.  Property tax should be completely eliminated, so people can actually own their home at some point.  A $500 credit is a very small about of money back for our family, but I will take it if there are no strings attached.  It is money we earned and should not belong to the state  This bill should apply to all who do not have children in schools. But that will take a society who does not feel entitled to the fruit of another’s labor. We are not there yet…unfortunately.

  • Sherri Bowthorpe

    Thoughts about HB 134. At first I thought YES, now I say NO, this is why:
    At first glance, it seemed like a no-brainer: of course it would make sense to give a $500 tax credit to homeschoolers to use for curriculum instead of having them pay for public education that they are not using. So I promptly emailed my representatives and told them I wanted them to vote “YES ON HB 134” Then was impressed when a little later in the day they each replied that they had not read it yet and that they would look into it and keep in touch. So, I was glad they were legitimately looking into what they voted on. I personally had only invested 5 minutes to read it and jump to a conclusion and take action—emailing my reps and a few friends who I thought would be concerned. A friend took a minute to call me and share some thoughts about that bill. I was enlightened and wanted to share them with you.
    She referred to an Essay she had read that talked about things which are SEEN, and things which are NOT SEEN. (2 Corinthians 4:18…for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.) there are 3 things NOT SEEN that this bill would do. The act of government separating out a particular group for their choices violates some important principles of liberty.
    1. It would give government a database of who is homeschooling. Do we want them to have a list like that? I say NO.
    2. What about private school citizens? They also pay the public education taxes, should we also give them the $500 back? Even though we do not utilize the public education, it does benefit society to have it available for those who use it. With that many funds pulled away from the already struggling public education, we lean toward needing to raise taxes for everyone…do we want that? I say NO.
    3. As soon as the government gives a financial benefit, they get some control, like various testing or curriculum requirements as well as the documentation burden on every side. Do we want them to have that control? I say NO.
    In the deeper look, it won’t actually help homeschoolers; it actually sneaks away a bit of freedom.
    So, I repent of my hasty look at it yesterday. Now I will urge my representatives to vote NO on HB 134.

  • deggertsen

    @Sherri Bowthorpe I agree with many of your points. The fact that this specifically labels home-schoolers rather than saying anyone who does not use the public system for their children is a HUGE mistake that may end up costing us dearly in the future. If this one thing were change though I would support this bill fully.

    I do think that there is danger of people trying to say that in order to qualify there would be some sort of testing in the future (not included in this bill), but I would argue that if that ever happened I would just stop taking the tax credit.

  • deggertsen

    OK, so I’ve been discussing this further with a lot of people and I now will NOT support this bill. If the wording were somehow changed so that any family with dependents who are not participating in the public school system could get the credit then I might support it, but event then it’s dangerous.

    We need to not come from the angle of entitlement. We need to take an approach that will truly free us from the public school monopoly. $500 specifically targeted to homeschoolers suddenly labels them as a special interest group that needs to be regulated. You might say that this is a baby step in the right direction, but by putting home schooling specifically in the law books we open the door for home schooling to be regulated, which would be an even bigger step in the WRONG direction.

    Change this bill so that ANY family that does not currently send children to public school qualifies for the tax credit and I will likely support it, but even then I would be extremely careful… I realize that this would be much more difficult to pass, but we need to make sure we are defending our liberties more than we need to worry about getting our money back.

  • blainenay

    $500 isn’t enough but it may be all that can be achieved. I’d rather see a tax credit of at least $1000.

    I’d also like to see this bill enhanced to include a tax credit for attendance at a private school.

  • Jennrc3

    It should be at least $500 per child, not per family…and only if the family paid taxes of at least that much.  I agree it should include anyone not using the school system; I would even include the childless, college students, and the retired who need to stay self reliant.

  • deggertsen

    Jennrc3 Agreed, unfortunately at this point a bill like that would never pass. Public education is probably the greatest runaway problem we have in America today, yet most regard it as God’s gift to humanity.

  • Jennrc3

    deggertsen Jennrc3 Yes, and it’s hard for public schools to teach against socialism when their whole system relies on it for funding.  Hence why we have a society who consistently fights about what kinds of socialism are okay and what kinds are not. All of it is wrong.

  • Michelle

    I support this bill. I just paid $2300 in income taxes to Utah, in addition to the property taxes on 2 homes, and then I pay for the cost of curriculum for 3 homeschooled students. As long as this a credit of your own tax obligation, and NOT a refundable tax credit, and as long as there are no requirements put on it such as a requirement to submit to any kind of testing or reporting.