Wisconsin Senate Bill 69, introduced on February 18, 2009, would provide public and private “eligible educators” an individual tax deduction of up to $250 for money they spend on educational materials or supplies. Based on the average 2007 individual tax rate of 3.3%, the average tax payer who qualifies for this deduction would save $8.25 on their Wisconsin income tax.
WPA has long opposed tax credits and tax deductions for homeschoolers because they can so easily lead to further regulation of all homeschoolers, not just those who claim deductions. This bill has the problems of previous legislation on tax deduction or tax credits for educational expenses. Few homeschoolers would benefit since many do not earn enough to itemize tax deductions. Savings for the few who qualified would be pitiful. Much more serious is the fact that the bill would allow the government to use tax audits to begin defining key terms such as “homeschooling” and asking questions such as: What materials are educational? Are homeschoolers claiming expenses for personal items such as computers? Can religious materials be included in deductible expenses? Are homeschools private schools? What is a legitimate curriculum? Legislation could be introduced in an attempt to resolve some of these issues. This would affect all homeschoolers, not just those who claim tax deductions. Who wants to sell our homeschooling freedoms for $8.25.
Unfortunately, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is supporting this bill as they have such bills in the past and encouraging homeschoolers in Wisconsin to support it. It is inappropriate and frustrating for an outside organization to come into the state and support legislation that would threaten the freedoms of Wisconsin homeschoolers. Thankfully, the bill is unlikely to be taken seriously during the current legislative session. However, please inform other homeschoolers about the problems with tax credits and tax deductions.