Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tax credits for homeschooling families

This is one hot button topic that brings many opinions to the table: the idea of tax credits for homeschooling families.

I have never quite understood why some homeschoolers oppose this idea so strongly.

Unless they simply don't understand what a tax credit is.

A federal tax credit is money credited to offset total tax liability. 

What I think people really don't understand is:

CLAIMING A CREDIT IS ENTIRELY UP TO YOU.

It is voluntary.

If one dislikes whatever "strings" the federal government might choose to impose...the answer is obvious.

Don't claim it!

(Now, wasn't that easy?)

Think about it this way...If someone who has childcare expenses fails to claim the childcare tax credit, (because their childcare provider does not meet the requirements imposed by the federal government), no one hunts them down and hassles them.  No one accuses them of wrong doing. You can still use the childcare provider of your choice...you just can't claim the credit.  So, you are in exactly the same position as before they passed the childcare tax credit.  No harm done. Be on your way.  Live long and prosper.  Likewise, if anyone looks at any number of federal tax credits, such as first time home buyer, or the purchase of energy efficient appliances.  You don't wish to purchase an energy efficient appliance?  You don't have to!  Just don't claim the tax credit. The decision is always yours if you wish to fulfill the requirements to claim any tax credit or not.

There is no REQUIREMENT to use a tax credit.  EVER!

Those who live in low homeschool regulation states are always wary of these tax credits.  Fine. 

But guess what?

NOT EVERYONE LIVES IN A LOW (HOMESCHOOLING) REGULATION STATE! 

Some of us already have the local school board camped out in our living rooms.  We are already forced to dance to their tune.  We deal with the red tape, the testing, and all of the stress.  We have the state dictate what classes we must teach, and what years they must be taught. We file reams of paperwork, jump through deadlines to push paperwork through, and get serious use out of our HSLDA memberships.

We wait to see, every summer, if we have passed "Homeschoolers trial" (AKA portfolio review), by getting that  "APPROVAL" letter in the mail. Accepted. (whew)  Come pick up all of your materials.  Usually included within, their intimidating list of things they DO or DON'T want to see in this child's portfolio next year.

(But, even THEN we aren't REALLY off the hook...we must keep that material, theoretically forever, in case a question ever arises)

Or...God forbid...you receive the call (which is actually supposed to be-by law- a certified letter, but the school doesn't generally follow the law, they only expect YOU to) that something is amiss. They want something else.  It may be a legal request...then again, it also may be a request for something they don't have the right to (Grade level, field trip list, testing during a non testing year, child's social security number, copy of your High School diploma).  It is up to you to know the difference, as laid out in PA act 169.

For some peace of mind, many of us sleep a bit better knowing we have HSLDA to back us up.

There are those of us who believe, if we already have the state imposed headache, we should at least be allowed to take a federal tax credit for the cost of the aspirin.

Since our kids aren't IN the local school, THEIR ALLOCATED PER STUDENT SHARE OF FEDERAL FUNDING (which is based on daily attendance) ISN'T GOING ANYWHERE!

Why shouldn't homeschool parents (who already comply with strict state standards anyways)  be able to tap those unused funds for their child's education?  Putting that money toward books and computers and enrichment classes and music classes and software and internet and ink and paper and testing and yearly evaluation by a licensed teacher...

I understand that there are those who would rather bear the cost of homeschooling themselves...nothing is stopping them from doing so, even if tax credit legislation allowing those who want some measure of relief were to pass.

I have actually had other homeschoolers accuse me of wanting more regulation imposed on them for my stance on desiring federal tax credits for homeschoolers.

THAT couldn't be further from the truth.

The simple truth is, while I'd prefer to have the local school district out of my living room.

As a Pennsylvania homeschooler,  I can't arrange that...

But I don't think they should be allowed such gross intrusion into our lives...without making any effort toward providing basic funding for their requirements.

Think about this for a moment.  When NCLB created all of those requirements for public schools ...what did the education establishment scream?

UNFUNDED MANDATE!!!!

Isn't that what the hoops and testing and paperwork  in highly regulated states set up for homeschooling families?  All sorts of requirements and "ACCOUNTABILITY" without so much as one dime of  funding.

Our vocabulary word for today children?  HYPOCRITICAL...

5 comments:

  1. I completely agree. I am lucky enough to live in a no reporting area and people have said we don't want funding cause it means we'll have reporting. If it's just a matter of a tax credit, you don't need to change anything you do, just don't claim the credit! I don't want reporting so I wouldn't claim such a credit! But for people who don't mind, or like you, already have to, darn right there SHOULD be some kind of funding!

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    1. Hi Sam!

      Thanks for stopping by the ZOO!

      And thanks for "getting" the voluntary nature of claiming a tax credit.

      That is really what I was trying to get through here.

      The paranoia is unfounded.

      If homeschoolers don't like whatever requirements wind up being involved...ignore the credit! Do what you want...(you don't qualify)

      Easy peasy...

      Delete
  2. I. too, home school under PA's burdensome law. I simply don't want the Federal GGovernment to add a second set of burdensome demands to my school because they offer tax credits which I may or may not choose to take. The result is the same. If the government giveth, the government expects to receiveth something in return. This could be removing religion from the school day, additional reporting requirements, increased standardized testing, mandatory drug testing, not being allowed to express my political beliefs to my kids, in home social worker visits to prevent child abuse (you know we homeschoolers are a shifty and dangerous lot),or perhaps no longer being able to choose the curriculum my child uses. All of those things and more could be imposed on me if the Federal Government allows homeschoolers the option to take tax credits.

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    1. Hello Anonymous,

      Thanks for stopping by the ZOO!

      But don't you see? You answered your own concern...you may or may not choose to take it.

      The simple solution to your concern is DON'T CLAIM THE CREDIT...go on your way...nothing changes!

      It isn't a "second set of burdensome demands!"(frankly, those you list are the worst case scenarios NOBODY would put up with!)if they are VOLUNTARY! (And any federal tax credit requirements would likely be based on PA law...widely regarded as the most burdensome requirements in the country)

      If the "strings" are what we are already doing anyways...

      Let's give it a shot!
      (worst thing that happens is...we turn it down, and decide not to take it!)

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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