Deadline for school tax credit donations almost here - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

Deadline for school tax credit donations almost here

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Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012 7:00 am | Updated: 11:58 am, Tue Jan 1, 2013.

Musical groups, character education, dance troupes and more benefit from Arizona’s Public School Tax Credit.

And this week, districts and charter schools are reminding taxpayers that the deadline to file donations is looming.

Arizona taxpayers can donate up to $400 to a public school for extra-curricular activities and receive a dollar-to-dollar state tax credit if they are filing as a couple. Individual donors can receive a $200 tax credit.

“The public education tax credit helps fund a variety of programs. At the elementary level, this includes character education and after-school activities such as mentoring and running club, to name two. At the secondary level, schools rely on this money to fund fine arts, music, athletics and a variety of clubs,” Chandler Unified School District spokesman Terry Locke said.

Many school district offices will be open Dec. 31 to gather last-minute donations, including Chandler.

Funds can be designated to a particular group or activity — such as gifted education or field trips or after-school classes.

“Extracurricular activities help children develop qualities such as leadership, team play and cooperation and also provide safe, supervised activities after school hours. One hundred percent of the donation goes directly to the schools for these extracurricular activities and taxpayers can designate by school, grade level and activity they’d like it to go toward,” said Mesa Unified School District spokesman Paul Boyer.

Mesa schools collected $1.9 million last year in extracurricular activity tax credit funds, $2 million in 2010 and $2.3 million in 2009, Boyer said.

Bob Edgar, director of the Williams Field High School and Power Ranch Elementary School band programs in the Higley Unified School District, said tax-credit donations allow students to develop musical and marching talents while attaining state and national exposure through contests and parades.

High schools often gather the highest amount of funds in school districts.

The Williams Field High School marching band, the Black Hawk Regiment, will march Saturday in the Orlando Citrus Parade, which celebrates the Capital One and Russell Athletic bowl games. Edgar estimated the trip costs about $65,000, with $20,000 paid by tax-credit donations.

“Tax credit donations pretty much made it possible for our Williams Field High School marching band to go this year to Orlando,” Edgar said in a press release. “In a time of shrinking budgets, the tax-credit program has enabled us to support our marching-band program and keep it afloat.”

Arizona taxpayers can also make donations to authorized school tuition organizations or STOs. Those groups then award scholarships to students for a private K-12 education. The maximum this year is $1,006 for a married couple filing jointly and $503 for other filing statuses.

This year, taxpayers who contribute the maximum to an STO may also give an additional $1,000 (per couple) or $500 (individual) toward the PLUS (Private Learning Uplifting Students) Tax Credit. Those funds are also being collected by certified STOs.

The two tax credits require different forms when filing taxes, according to the Arizona Department of Revenue.

Donations to a STO must be made prior to filing taxes or before April 15 of each year in order to be eligible for the current year tax credit.

For detailed information, talk to a tax filing professional.

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