As tax deadlines loom, Maricopa County Education Service Agency (MCESA) is again urging taxpayers to recognize the impact they can have on students’ lives, while also earning a tax credit, by donating to public schools.
Arizona taxpayers can help fund a classroom trip to a planetarium, a high school band’s uniforms or any other number of local school programs instead of paying that same amount in income taxes thanks to the state’s education tax credit program.
Arizona’s education tax credit program allows people to donate $200 (for individuals) or $400 (for a married couple) to a school’s extracurricular programs and then subtract that amount from their tax bill, as long as their tax bill would otherwise equal that amount or more.
Extracurricular activities and character education efforts, like sports clubs, music lessons, and trips to museums, can contribute to students’ academic success and interest in school, but many schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods are not able to partake in these experiences.
Of the funds donated to these activities through the tax credit program in 2013, eighty percent ended up going to only 20 percent of Maricopa County’s schools, leaving many more disadvantaged areas’ schools without this funding.
The community responded to MCESA’s call last year for new donors to contribute to schools with fewer donations. MCESA hopes those efforts continue in creating more equitable opportunities for area schools and their students.
MCESA’s Tax Credit Portal makes it simple for people to see which schools have received the most in tax credit dollars and which schools have received very little or none in the past.
Taxpayers can donate through the portal and receive the information they need to pay that amount less on their tax bill through the state’s education tax credit program.
Unlike a tax deduction, which lowers a taxpayer’s taxable income, a tax credit provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the actual amount a person owes in income tax.
People can visit the tax credit portal on MCESA’s website by clicking on “Tax Credit” at education.maricopa.gov or through links from Maricopa County schools’ websites.
Donations must be made by April 15, 2016, to affect the tax bill from 2015 and a receipt will be made to use on the taxpayer’s tax return. For more specifics about tax credit, visit the Arizona Department of Revenue.