A Look at the Education Investment Tax Credit

Albany, NY – For three months, I have been in Albany fighting on behalf of my constituents for educational and economic equity for our children.

In that time there has been an intense lobbying push for the Education Income Tax Credit (EITC) a bill that is supposed to provide additional funds for private, parochial and even public schools.

I recognize that many of my constituents – particularly in the Jewish and Catholic community – pay large sums of money for tuition, and as a result have been diligently looking for solutions to alleviate some of the financial burden.

As a former teacher, I have personally experienced the commitment it takes to ensure both that students at all levels get the education they need to thrive and that tuition of any educational services remains affordable for parents.

The Problems With EITC

Unfortunately, the EITC only indirectly attempts to support education by offering a tax incentive for educational contributions made by corporations and wealthy philanthropists.

For example, if a millionaire decides to charitably donate $1 million to an educational private institution, the EITC will offer $750,000 back to the millionaire in tax credits while allowing the ability to still deduct 10 percent off the remaining $250,000.

That same millionaire would then be able to cherry pick what institution the scholarship fund goes to. Parents must hope that incentive will spur a large corporation or philanthropist to contribute to their children's school – and then hope that contribution results in a tuition reduction. This would leave the majority of the Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Lutheran and all other parochial schools and private schools not served by the EITC.

Furthermore, the EITC does not guarantee relief to individual parents as any funds provided may not pay for tuition at all, but end up funding other expenses entirely or to the salaries of the administrator.

A Solution: A Better Education Tuition Tax Credit

I support a more direct approach in relieving parents of the financial burden-which is why I'm a prime co-sponsor of a bill (A.6318) offering a tax credit that will go toward tuition for private schools, as well as public school parents for nursery, tutoring, and after-school programs. This bill, called the Education Tuition Credit, would give every parent up to $500 or 12.5 percent of their tuition up to $5000, as a tax refund per child-in addition to the $1,000 refund that New York State currently offers parents.

To offer an example of how this would work: if Jane Doe has four children and all of them are enrolled in a parochial school, she will get a total of $6,000 in refunds: $1,000 per child like everyone else, plus $500 per child for school tuition.

Of course, the costs of tuition are much higher than these amounts, but it is a step in the right direction.

In the coming weeks, I look to gather the support and votes of my colleagues for the Educational Tax Credit, in order to help struggling parents get direct financial assistance on educational services for their children.