Monday, January 27, 2020
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Federal tax reform would wipe out key deductions

When I taught students, I would often buy items for my classroom—holiday treats, notebooks and art supplies, glitter that seventh graders seem to love, and so on—and the small tax credit I could receive for these purchases, though too small to cover the cost completely, helps lots of teachers across America. That tax credit has been chopped off in the latest budget advanced in Congress.

This is not some tax “reform” that would affect state or school district budgets, but it would most definitely affect teachers in our nation’s classrooms—and the effect would be a negative one, both immediately and in the long term.

In addition to changing how families may use their 529 contributions from using it only for college-related costs, which is what the program was established to serve, to using the tax-free money and interest to pay for private school tuition, this is why Voxitatis confidently cannot endorse the latest budget to come from the House.

Not insignificantly, it would also eliminate the state tax deduction from our federal returns and cap the local tax deduction. “Our state and local taxes [paid mostly through property and vehicle taxes] support our public schools,” writes the Network for Public Education in an email message. “When taxpayers lose that deduction, there will be increased pressure on our local school boards and the state to further defund public education.”

  • The April 2011 report “Get The Federal Government Out Of Education? That Wasn’t The Founding Fathers’ Vision,” published by the Center on Education Policy, includes an analysis of the laws in several states that would seem to take the federal government out of education.
  • Here are Six Charts That Help Explain the Tax Plan, intended to give a one-frame picture of what has been proposed for several groups of people, families, and businesses in all 50 states.

The federal budget that passed in the House does reduce the tax rate for families making between about $90,000 and $200,000 while increasing the rate slightly for those making between that and about $420,000. The top tax rate of 39.6 percent would remain.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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