Private school students won't get tax credits under AL Accountability Law
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
Students currently enrolled in private schools across Alabama are ineligible for tax credits outlined in the Alabama Accountability Act.
During an interview Tuesday with Julie Magee, the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Revenue, she said that the intent of the law was aimed at transfer students, not existing private school students.
"Once we started interpreting the actual act itself and writing the rules" Magee said. "It became pretty clear to us that the intent was that in order to achieve the tax credit, the parent must actually transfer their student to a non-public school."
Magee said the department has already established what it refers to as "bona fide" transfers.
If a student is rising from kindergarten, then that student could transfer to a qualifying private school and the family would be eligible for the tax credit.
If a family moves to a region and is zoned for a failing school, then the family is eligible for the tax credit should the parents attempt to enroll the child in a participating private school.
Finally, if a family wants a transfer then their child must have completed at least one semester in a failing public school for the family to be eligible for the tax credits.
Private schools must participate in the scholarship program in order for a family to earn the tax credit. They are not legally obligated to participate. Also, any school, public or private, has the right to reject a student attempting to transfer from a failing school, leaving open the possibility that a child could be trapped in a failing school.
Magee said the department was never consulted by lawmakers on the details of the tax credits.
Some Republican members of the legislature had said that the way they understood the law, that students currently enrolled in private school would be eligible for the tax credits and that turned out not to be the case.
Gov. Robert Bentley had been outspoken about the tax credits saying he didn't think private school students would be eligible.
Families could qualify for as much as $3,500 per child in tax credits if they transfer out of a failing school and into a participating private school.
The Department of Revenue will have documents available by the end of the month with more information about registering as a Scholarship Granting Organization.
Parents will be able to apply for the tax credits when they file their taxes next year.
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