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New Tax Break For Parents of Local School Kids?

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A local elected official beat Governor George Pataki to the punch. Just days before the governor announced plans to include an education tax credit in his $110.7 billion state budget, State Senator Marty Golden unveiled a similar proposal. Presently before the state legislature, Golden’s bill calls for qualified parents to receive an annual tax credit of up to $1,500 per child or $3,000 per family. The tax credit would be available to parents of children in kindergarten to 12th grade in public, parochial, and private schools, as well as those who are home-schooled. “An education tax credit would significantly help all parents of school-aged children to pay for school tuition and other educational expenses, including textbooks, tutoring, personal computers, and educational software,” Golden said. With two children enrolled in Catholic school, Marine Park resident Maureen Byrnes said the tax credit would be quite a relief. “If we could get a tax credit that we could put toward education, it would be important,” she said. Parents of children in private and parochial schools pay thousands of dollars to educate their kids each year. At one local parochial school, patrons of the church are charged $3,100 per year for one child, $4,700 for two, and $6,125 for three. Those who are not patrons of the church are charged $3,350 per child. There is an additional $500 charge to cover parent association fees, mandatory fundraising costs, and material fees, which include textbooks. With such high costs, a tax credit would be “great and [is] long overdue,” Byrnes said. “For far too long, parents have had to endure a tremendous financial hardship, both in paying taxes for their kids in public school but also for tuition in Catholic schools, Jewish day schools, and the like, and also for extra programs, such as tutoring,” said Jim Cultrara, director for education for the New York State Catholic Conference. “All those costs pose a tremendous burden on families,” he continued. “[A tax credit] will go a long way to helping those families.” Golden’s bill would also provide an annual tax credit of no more than $250 to teachers who use their own money to purchase instructional supplies for qualified schools. The senator’s legislation is somewhat different from what was outlined in Pataki’s budget. The governor listed a tax credit of $500 per child for parents of kids who live in school districts with underperforming schools. The credit is designed to help parents pay for academic enrichment services, such as tutoring, after-school programs, and tuition to private or parochial schools, the latter of which has caused controversy. Critics have charged that the tax credit is no different than a school voucher, as it provides incentives for parents to enroll their children in private rather than public schools. “We have always supported a parent’s right to send their child to private school, but we are philosophically opposed to rewarding them for doing so,” Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) President Jill Levy said.

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