Tax credits for homeschoolers?

Room for Debate asks if homeschooling parents should get tax credits to cover their costs. Conservative Republicans say they’ll require states to offer a credit, though it’s not clear what form it will take. Currently, only Louisiana, Illinois and Minnesota offer some tax relief to homeschoolers.

Several debaters argue credits will come with regulations, such as testing, which some parents will see as intrusive. Some parents will prefer to keep their independence, especially as the credits’ value probably will be limited. But some will be interested.

The Home School Legal Defense Association, proposes a $500 credit for all parents who spend their own money for tuition, tutors, books, curricula, computers and the like, writes William Estrada, the group’s counsel. Public school parents who supplement their children’s education expenses would be included. It could end up as a tax credit for parents of school-aged children. Not that there’ s anthing wrong with that.

Your thoughts?

About Joanne


  1. Cranberry says:

    As a private school parent, should I receive a tax break?


    Our local taxes don’t pay for public schooling directly. They support our town’s budget. Our town, in turn, pays for the public schools. Our taxes support local government, and that government offers free public schooling to residents’ children. We do not pay taxes to underwrite the education plans of residents who choose not to avail themselves of the free local schools.

    If I had a large family, say, seven children, I don’t pay more in property taxes than someone with a comparable property who has one child. Tax rates thus have no relation to the value of services received.

    If you follow the logic of, “well, they don’t take a spot in the public schools, but do have education expenses, thus the public owes them some money,” then every private school parent should receive a tax credit, too. And just think of people who don’t have children, or whose children are adults. What are we doing charging them for services they’ll never use?

    On the other hand, everyone who owns property in a town benefits when those schools are well funded and well run. Thus, homeschooling parents’ net worth is directly linked to good local schools, even if they don’t receive tax credits. Draining the system of funds by handing out tax credits to those who could participate, but don’t, also harms homeschooling families.

    I’m also unclear on the mechanism whereby the Congressmen think they can dictate school funding policies at the town level.

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Nice idea in theory.

    But the last thing we need is more exceptions and regulations in the tax code.

  3. I do not support tax credits for homeschooling because they will be the “camel’s nose in the tent” that will lead to additional government regulation of homeschooling.

    I do, however, strongly feel that all families should have the option of enrolling their children in a “virtual charter” that provides a stipend for curriculum & classes of the parent’s choice. Those families who want the money and can live with the strings attached like testing can go that route. Those who wish to homeschool privately should not be subject to any regulation above & beyond that required of traditional private schools. So if traditional private schools are exempt from standardized testing requirements, so should private homeschools.

  4. No tax credits, but, education vouchers should be redeemable at home schools.

  5. No way. The instant homeschooling tax credits get written into the tax code, the federal government and the DOE will have a perfect reason to get involved with HOW we homeschool our kids. I can’t fathom why homeschoolers would invite such oversight into our homes.

    Sure, it would be nice to have more of our own money back to spend on our children’s education, but the non-monetary costs would be way too high. Even if homeschooling families were allowed to opt out of the credit, I can’t imagine why the DOE would remain content to know about some of the homeschooling families and not others. It would only be a matter of time before some kind of official federal homeschooling policy would be created.

    I spent some time a few years ago comparing such a tax credit to the current HOPE tax credit, and republished the post the other day:

  6. At best I’d say they should have tax deductions for any money spent on curriculum materials, supplies, and fees for use of facilities for phys ed and all.

  7. I don’t want the IRS getting involved in determining what is or is not an “acceptable” educational expense. If I wanted the government to dictate which materials are okay to use in educating my children, I’d enroll them in the local government-run school.

  8. Cardinal Fang says:

    No way. If I want my child to get a free education, I can send him to government schools. If I want him to go to private school or homeschool, I pay.

  9. “If I had a large family, say, seven children, I don’t pay more in property taxes than someone with a comparable property who has one child. Tax rates thus have no relation to the value of services received.”

    Irrelevant. Tax rates aren’t at issue here. Total tax dollars are. If you have a large family, everyone is paying more to school them.

    As a taxpayer who is expected to pay to educate other peoples’ kids (and reap the indirect societal benefits, as some have pointed out), it makes no direct difference to me whether my tax dollars accomplish the task by being spent at a public school or a private one. If private schools are more cost-effective, then it’s in my interest as a taxpayer to steer funding in that direction via a voucher or tax credit. And since the vouchers and tax credits usually don’t reimburse full tuition cost, the net cost to taxpayers is even lower for voucher-financed private education as compared to tax-financed public schools.

    I doubt that I could support a tax credit for home schooling vs. private schools though, in part because it would be difficult to quantify the value of home schooling, let alone results. I’d rather see the public school monopoly broken vs. private schools before trying to stretch the concept to its limit.

  10. Absolutely not. It’s their choice. The wife, who isn’t working, will get far more SocSec than the hub paid in. That’s enough.

  11. As a homeschooler, I definately have a dog in this fight. 🙂

    I’m going to suggest a third way. All parents should be provided with a standard value voucher for each child, to be used in the public school system, a private school, or on homeschool expenses. If the child has a diagnosed learning disability, the voucher should be of greater value to handle the cost of extra services. The amount of the standard voucher can be determined at the state level rather than via local property taxes, thus ensuring that kids in high poverty areas receive an equal opportunity to attend a functioning school. In low poverty states, the federal government can subsidize. Parents must submit their child to standardized testing to qualify for the voucher. Those that choose not to test can forgo the voucher.

  12. tim-10-ber says:

    Hmmmm…any one receiving dollars for education from the government be it state, local or federal needs to report out results, have a set curriculum, use EOC exams, etc. I would pass on this…My property taxes clearly state how much go to government education. I say no.

  13. No vouchers. No tax credits. Government has no business interfering with homeschools or private schools. As a matter of fact, they should do away with taxpayer funded education altogether – it’s too expensive and doesn’t work.

  14. On second thought, I’m with Maria on this issue.

  15. tim-10-ber says:

    I like Maria’s idea, too…very well said

  16. To all the “principled” opposition to this scheme, the solution’s simple: don’t bite.

    If you take the bait you get the hook but as Hillsdale College proves on a daily basis, it’s quite possible to avoid the hassles if you avoid the goodies.

  17. Michele V says:

    No thanks, I’ll take a pass though I homeschool my two children. I didn’t expect a tax credit when I was working/married/had no children; I don’t expect or want one now. The strings that will be attached to those credits are not wanted here! (One of the colleges of choice for my kids is Hillsdale!)

  18. There already is an educators tax credit. While many homeschooling advocates are religious extremists and paranoid anti-government wackos, I don’t see why they shouldn’t get this same credit, too, so long as they are actually covering their state standards.

    If they’re just teaching young earth history and climate skepticism, then let them damage their children on their own dime.

    While I have “some” disdain for the homeschooling movement, I don’t see why they or anyone should be subjected to the useless and wasteful testing of NCLB.

  19. I teach evolution and an age of the universe in the billions of years in our homeschool, and my kids are academically ahead of our state standards. But I don’t want a tax credit or deduction because it’s not the government’s business how I choose to teach my children. I don’t want to have to start tracking hours, undergoing portfolio review, and/or submitting curricula for approval as is required in some states. Not because I have anything to hide but because it’s an infringement upon my right as a parent to direct the upbringing of my child as I deem best.

    If parents were offered a tax credit/deduction for “approved” food purchases but in exchange they faced requirements to submit meal plans for government approval, periodic health testing by government doctors with the threat of being forced to use a government cafeteria, and so on, that would rightly be seen as an infringement upon parental rights. It’s the same with tax credits/deductions for homeschooling expenses.

    It’s a free country, and that means that some parents will make choices for their families that aren’t ideal for their children. Whether it’s a junk food diet or poor homeschooling curriculum, that’s the price we pay for living in a free society.

  20. Hey, Michael Dunn – Stay classy!

  21. “No vouchers. No tax credits. Government has no business interfering with homeschools or private schools. As a matter of fact, they should do away with taxpayer funded education altogether – it’s too expensive and doesn’t work.”

    Well said, Maria. And also, correct.

    “If you take the bait you get the hook but as Hillsdale College proves on a daily basis, it’s quite possible to avoid the hassles if you avoid the goodies.”

    Quite right, Allen. Michele V, send your child to Hillsdale. And then, get involved in the parents’ groups and all of the fine programs offered by the college. My son is there now and will graduate soon. My girls will also be there in a short time. There is no finer college in the country because there is no interference in any way from the government. Unfortunately, I teach at a so-called private college that is not private because it takes government money. As it sinks deeper and deeper into government control, what was at one time a fine college becomes worse every year.

  22. I would be in favor of tax dollars if home school parents were then held equally liable for ALL of the requirements of the state education’s system.

  23. I would be in favor of public schools receiving funding if they were held liable for ALL the requriements of the state education’s stystem.