Photo by Wendy Howell.
WILLIAMS, Ariz. — 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.
Until last year, tax credit donations had to be received by the end of the calendar year. Beginning in 2016, contributions made to a public school from Jan. 1 through April 15 of a calendar year may be used as a tax credit on the prior year’s tax return also.
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.
WUSD Business Manager said if people owe state income tax, they can donate it to a school instead of giving it to the state.
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.
McNelly said in the past WUSD has used the money for athletics, field trips and travel such as state playoffs. The school can also use it to assist with food, uniforms and equipment.
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.
The credit may only be used to the extent that it reduces a tax liability to zero on an Arizona tax return.
The money must be paid directly to a public or charter school and cannot be paid through a school club or PTSA type organization. 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.
The tax credit can only be used to reduce an individual’s tax liability and refunds are not provided to individuals without a tax liability. Additionally, trusts, estates, regular corporations, corporations and partnerships are not eligible to claim this credit.
For the tax year 2004, the State of Arizona Department of Revenue reported that Arizona public schools received contributions of $30.96 million to extracurricular activities and character education programs. For the tax year 2007, that number grew to contributions of $43.9 million, with contributions from 211,270 people.
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.