Homeschoolers and Tax Breaks
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
With the new Congress sworn in, some conservatives are looking into whether or not homeschoolers should get a tax-break.
The New York Times picked up the debate and wondered "Do Homeschool Schoolers Deserve a Tax Break?" They presented a variety of opinions from many of the major voices in education. I agree with the the sentiments of Neal P. McCluskey of the CATO Insitution that tax breaks are an "Unconstitutional Instrusion."
If nothing else, Washington would need to ensure that credits weren't being claimed fraudulently, requiring some "proof" of home schooling. Proof, however, could eventually be defined as, say, passing scores on federally prescribed tests – just the sort of dictate many home schoolers despise. And then there's the matter of making worse a tax code already so complicated you need an army of accountants to figure it out.
Homeschoolers deserve some breaks. At the national level, that means adhering to the Constitution and getting the federal government out of education which would benefit not just homeschoolers, but all taxpayers.
And that "proof" is exactly what Chester Finn called for in his essay, "Yes, to a Tax Credit, but Tests are Necessary".
In return for the financial help, however, home-schooled students should be required to take state tests, just as they would do in regular school, charter school or virtual schools. And if they don't pass those tests, either the subsidy vanishes or the kids must enroll in some sort of school with a decent academic track record
I must admit surprise and disappointment with the opinion offered by William Estrada, director of HSLDA's federal relations department, in support of a tax-credit, "No Extra Rules Required." Estrada included a definition for "qualifying educational expenses" for all parents, no matter where they educate their children. And to avoid regulation and prevent abuse,
The I.R.S. could conduct an audit, and the parent or parent's tax preparer could retain all the necessary documentation relating to the child's education and the qualifying educational expense to show to the I.R.S. if necessary. just retain their records and the IRS could conduct an audit.
Wow! So not only will we be required to prove we're educating through testing, we'll be proving we're not tax cheats too! Because you know those homeschoolers and our tendency toward abuse! Please HSLDA you can do better than this!
Estrada's position appears to contradict a long held belief of HSLDA and many homeschoolers that the federal government should stay out of education. Here's what they wrote in 2000,
"The federal government's involvement in education represents everything that is wrong with so many of our government agencies; they are unconstitutional, wasteful, expensive, and out of touch. It is the duty of our congress to not only abolish the Department of Education, but the entire federal involvement in education.
Wouldn't this tax-credit be counter productive to that goal? HSLDA doesn't think so. In 2009, they wrote, "HSLDA will support tax credits that promote educational choice without threatening any regulation of homeschoolers."
But is promoting any educational choice a role of the federal government? NO!
.......(more at link, plus great archives as well)
Anyone who's been here a handful of times already knows my thoughts on this idea. I'm a *private* homeschool as defined by my State laws. I do not ask for a handout from the government and I do not want one. The government dangled some pretty candy in the faces of Alaskan homeschoolers a few years back and hooked quite a few. Funny how the candy always preceeds the pit they've dug. Honey lures flies I guess.
This idea reeks of government phishing and is just another step toward taking more freedoms away from The People under the guise of being helpful and encouraging. Don't fall for it.