Education Tax Credit Introduced in Congress

Published May 1, 1999

While Congress struggles with policy decisions about just how much freedom to give states over the spending of billions of dollars in federal education funding, two Members have proposed beginning the process of turning over such decision-making powers to families sitting around kitchen tables in millions of homes across the country.

The Children’s Education Tax Credit Act, which would create a $1,000 tax credit per child for elementary and secondary educational expenses, was introduced by Representatives Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) and James E. Rogan (R-California).

The tax credit would be available to families who incurred expenses at an eligible educational institution for tuition, tutoring, and the purchase of textbooks, supplies, and course-required computer software and hardware. Public schools, private schools, parochial schools, and home schools all qualify as eligible educational institutions.

“Rather than creating new federal programs run by new federal bureaucrats, we need to put responsibility and resources in the hands of our nation’s parents,” Tancredo told Congress when he introduced the bill, HR 600, on February 4. “With this tax credit, parents will have the means and the freedom to provide the unique support their children need to learn at their very best.”

Rogan pointed out that an average American family today spends about $720 a year on each child’s learning, but that too many Americans are forced to choose between spending a little extra on their child’s learning or paying the rent. With the credit, parents could better afford to make the best education choice for their children.

“By letting parents decide how best their education dollars can be spent, we begin deferring to local communities and families the crucial decisions on how to educate a child,” said Rogan, urging Congress to “empower parents to do more for their children so that our nation’s next generation can truly thrive.”

George A. Clowes is managing editor of School Reform News.