Committee to Consider Special-Needs Tax Credit
Special Report - June 15, 2009
A North Carolina State House committee will consider a bill Tuesday that would allow up to $6,000 in income tax credit for students with disabilities whose needs are better met in private or tuition-based public schools. HB 687Tax Credits for Children with Disabilities would allow an individual income tax credit for up to $3,000 per semester to offset tuition, special education, and related service expenses for eligible students to enroll in a nonpublic school or a public school charging tuition. The student must have been enrolled for at least two semesters in a public school and been determined to require an individualized education program (IEP) and daily special education and services outside the regular classroom to qualify.
According to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), 179,321 North Carolina students’ special educational needs warranted an IEP in 2008. Additionally, DPI estimates 30 percent of public school students with an IEP require daily special instructional and/or therapeutic services outside the classroom. Primary bill sponsor, Rep. Paul Stam (RWake) wrote in March 2009 that “Estimates by fiscal research show that a tax credit would save the state of North Carolina about $6 million yearly, while saving counties about $5 million yearly.” That figure is based on significant state ($8,296) and local ($1,934) expenditure savings totaling more than $10,000 per student who leaves the public school system as a result of the tax credit.
Consideration on the bill was postponed until Tuesday as the House struggled to balance a budget facing a $4 billion deficit. The House Education committee is scheduled to consider HB 687 at 11 a.m. on June 16.
“This tax credit would provide immeasurable benefit to those students who so often fall through the cracks of our current education system,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Parents should not be put in the position of being unable to afford to choose to provide the best educational opportunity for any child, but especially children with specific and specialized learning needs. We whole-heartedly support this bill and the right of all parents to have the opportunity to make the educational decisions that are in the best interest of their children.”
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