Parents, in virtue of their participation in the fatherhood of God, have the first responsibility for the education of their children and they are the first heralds of the faith for them. (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church #460)
Education is one of the most important responsibilities entrusted to parents. Parents must provide the necessary foundation for their children to thrive and grow into good citizens, leaders and problem solvers. The future of our entire community depends on the education of today’s youth.
Catholic schools offer excellent educational opportunities; but how can families pay for it?
In 2001, Pennsylvania established the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. The EITC provides businesses with a tax credit for donating to nonprofit scholarship or educational improvement organizations. These groups grant scholarships to students giving parents the economic means to choose the learning environment they believe is best for their children.
Scholarships are awarded according to the scholarship organization’s criteria. Minimally, scholarships go to families with an annual household income of $50,000 or less with an additional $10,000 allowance per student and each other dependent living in the same home. Each diocese has its own program criteria.
Tax credits are not deductions; they are an actual reduction in the tax liability of a business. A onetime donation to a K-12 scholarship program earns a 75% tax credit; a two-year commitment yields a 90% tax credit. A business contributing to a pre-kindergarten scholarship program receives a 100% tax credit for the first $10,000 and a 90% credit thereafter. To be eligible for a tax credit, a business must pay at least one of Pennsylvania’s business taxes.
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will begin accepting applications for businesses renewing their EITC donations on May 15, 2007. New business applications begin July 2, 2007. Tax credits are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. In 2005, the available tax credits ran out within a few weeks.
Currently, more than 25,000 students in Pennsylvania are already benefiting from EITC scholarships and nearly 2,200 companies participate. This year, $44 million is earmarked in the Pennsylvania state budget for EITC. But, the demand is much greater. Many more families could benefit from scholarships; and, many businesses are willing and ready to contribute. Governor Ed Rendell expressed his support for the program during an interview with the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) last summer. When asked if he would support allocating more money for EITC he said, “Yes. My record speaks for itself. We have doubled it during my time as governor. I support it and I think it is a good idea.” Contact the governor and thank him for his support and urge him to push for more funding. Contact your state legislators and ask for their support. Let them know that EITC is helping families fulfill their responsibility for educating their children in your community. Log on to pacatholic.org to send an e-mail.
For more information about the EITC, log on to www.paschoolchoice.org.
PCC Column January 2007 by Amy Beisel, Communications Director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference – the public affairs arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania.