In 2002, the Arizona State Legislature passed a law providing tax credits to taxpayers who contribute to public and private schools.
Not all schools can afford what’s needed to provide programs and experiences that enrich students’ education, but Arizona’s public school tax credit program can help schools bridge that gap.
According to the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR), taxpayers filing in Arizona have the unique opportunity to redirect a portion of state tax dollars they already pay to public education. The credit allows an Arizona taxpayer to contribute $200 per individual tax return or $400 per joint tax return to a school’s extracurricular programs.
Contributions can be made to the school of your choice. Local schools such as Williams Unified School District (WUSD), Heritage Charter School, Ash Fork Joint Unified School District, Grand Canyon School and Maine Consolidated School can accept donations and have many extracurricular activities that can benefit.
Activities such as field trips, after-school enrichment programs, character education, clubs, athletics, visual and performing arts, and trips for competitive events can be funded with tax credit money. Senior trips or events that are recreational, amusement or tourist activities cannot be funded with the tax credit money.
Last year, WUSD used tax credit donations for multiple field trips and extracurricular activities.
At Williams Elementary-Middle School (WEMS), most tax credit donations are used for incentive trips for students, according to Carrissa Morrison, principal at WEMS.
Three to four times each year, select students from the school, who are doing well academically, are taken on college field trips.
“We recently went to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with 80 eligible students,” Morrison said. “The students were given a tour of the college, went to a planetarium show and got to look at aircraft.”
Students at WEMS have also visited other Arizona college campuses including Yavapai College, Coconino Community College and Northern Arizona University.
“We like to visit a college and add a little bit of recreation,” Morrison said about the incentive trips. “The main expense at Embry-Riddle was buying pizza and sodas the students ate at the park.”
Students have also been taken to Yavapai Career and Technical Education Center and observed classes such as gunsmithing and auto repair.
“We not only visit four-year universities,” Morrison said. “We try to make it varied for whoever might have an interest in different areas.”
Morrison said tax credit donations have also been used for field trips to the Heritage Park Zoo in Prescott, the Phoenix Zoo, Camp Colton and Flagstaff Extreme.
For this year, Morrison said the K-12 Life skills program plans to take special needs students to the Arizona Renaissance Festival.
At Williams High School, tax credit funds have been used for football travel shirts, summer jerseys and meals during travel. They have also been used for band travel, mountain bike team bicycles and race fees and new lighting at Parenteau Auditorium for drama programs.
Any Arizona resident paying state income tax can make a tax credit contribution, whether they have a child in school or not. Individuals do not have to donate to the district they live in, they can contribute to any public school in the state.
Donations must be made to the school district, and can be directed toward a specific activity or to a central fund at a specific school.
Tax credit contributions can be made to a public school until April 15.
More information about the credit can be found by contacting a tax professional. Specific details on how to donate to a school and obtain a receipt can be found at: Williams public schools (928) 635-2057; Ash Fork public schools (928) 637-2561; Heritage Charter School (928) 635-3998; Grand Canyon School (928) 638-2461 and Maine Consolidated School (928) 635-2115.