If you’d like to help students, teachers and schools then set aside a little time this holiday to learn more about tax credit donations to help a program of your choice at Arizona public schools.
These tax credit donations allow Arizona taxpayers to give to Arizona public school programs that have meaning for them and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for qualifying donations – up to $200 per individual and $400 per couple.
You can make a general tax credit donation to a school or an activity-specific donation and donations made between January 1 through April 15 of the calendar year, may be used as a tax credit on your prior year’s tax return.
Tax credit donations help schools supplement extracurricular programs for students, help parents pay fees for students to participate in sports, band and other extracurricular activities as well as standardized testing and fees such as Advanced Placement tests and Career and Technical Education assessments, help fund school’s character education programs, CPR training, playground equipment and shade structures for playground equipment, community school meal programs, students’ consumable healthcare supplies and capital items.
A good resource to use before making your tax credit donation to a public school is the Arizona Department of Revenue’s Public School Tax Credit resource page which includes all the details you’ll need to ensure you can deduct your donation on your state taxes.
Many public schools and school districts have information about tax credit donations on their web page, and some also provide online portals to make that donation easier or include helpful instructions on how and where to send donations.
Some schools around the state have a harder time raising money through tax credit donations, so if you’re looking to make your dollars have even more impact, you might want to donate to a program of your choice at a tribal, rural, remote, or Title I school that serves a substantial amount of students from low-income families.
Maricopa County Education Service Agency identified these discrepancies several years ago and encourages taxpayers to use their School Tax Credit Donation Portal online tool to see which schools receive the least in tax credits and make donations to one those schools in need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed some of the ways schools have traditionally collected tax credit donations, but they’ve come up with new ideas too.
Schools around the state will be closed soon for winter break, but many districts remain open to promote public education tax credit opportunities, said Terry Locke, director of community relations for Chandler Unified School District.
Chandler Unified School District promotes its mobile service on December 31 each year, offering to pick up donations at businesses and residences.
Chandler Unified typically provides attention-getting offers such as free tamales on Dec. 31, but will take a hiatus on the food handouts this year due to COVID-19 concerns. Schools have offered pancake breakfasts, curb-side drop-off and coffee and doughnuts to last-minute donors in the past.
“We don’t believe offering tamales or breakfast or mobile service is necessarily the reason the public provides a donation,” Locke said. “But it gets the word out and creates some buzz that the district is open.”
Although the deadline for public education tax credits has been extended to April 15, Chandler Unified works hard at the end of the fiscal year because the public is in the habit of providing to charity at the end of the year and to be able to itemize on federal tax returns.
Donations by mid-year provide more opportunities to benefit a classroom or school for the current year than donations made in the fourth quarter.
Chandler Unified collected more than $6 million in tax credits in 2019.
Maddie Moritomo, a North Canyon High School senior, says that she loves basketball because “It’s a challenge,” and Aidyn Parrish, a senior, says “It’s a passion of mine. It keeps me going.”
When asked about the benefits of basketball, Michael O’Guinn, North Canyon High School boys basketball coach, said, “It teaches discipline. It teaches them how to work in a team atmosphere. And also I think the biggest thing is that it teaches them a sense of pride. Whether winning or losing, they’re involved with others and just that camraderie, you can’t replace it.”
O’Guinn said tax credit donations help so much.
“As a head coach you want as many resources as you can and nothing comes for free,” O’Guinn said. “The tax credits go a long way in helping these student athletes to benefit from the training, from the equipment, the uniforms.”
The Peoria Unified School District will once again be outside the District Administration Center from 9 a.m. – Noon on Thursday, Dec. 31 to collect tax credit donations for the school year. This year, tax credit donations will be collected in a drive-thru format for a contactless experience.
Last year, capital items were added to the list of eligible tax credit purposes. This includes furniture, furnishings, athletic equipment or computer software. In addition to helping our students succeed, donors will receive a dollar-for dollar return during tax season making it easy to give back and get back.
One hundred percent of the donation goes directly to the school program or student selected by the donor, allowing individuals to provide funding to programs for which they are most passionate. If a donor does not have a program they would like to fund, they may designate their contribution to the school(s) with the greatest need.
Individuals who wish to donate can do so online at www.peoriaunified.org/taxcredits, or in person at the Peoria Unified School District Administration Center.