Rabbinical Commentary: Tax Educational Credits

Posted on January 16, 2009 In Blog

On the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration, the Jewish Exponent solicited local Jews to provide unsolicited advice to the president-elect, focusing on their areas of expertise or activism. The following was submitted by Rabbi Avraham J. Shmidman, religious leader of Lower Merion Synagogue, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Rabbi Avraham J. Shmidman

You have attempted to present yourself as someone who seeks practical results and is open to ideas that aren’t naturally yours.

In fact, you told The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in February, with reference to school vouchers: “I will not allow my predispositions to stand in the way of making sure that our kids can learn.”

Its clear advantages notwithstanding, school vouchers are highly controversial. What should not be are tax education credits.

Here’s why:

· Tax education credits are constitutional, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1983.

· No government money goes to schools. They are personal or corporate funds that pay for tutoring, books, educational software, etc., and may also pay for a portion of private tuition.

· Tax credits do not harm public schools. On the contrary, they enable parents access to materials and services, like SAT prep courses, they would not otherwise necessarily receive.

· No money is taken away from public schools. The opposite is true. More money goes toward education, but without bureaucratic hoops.

· Tax credits are efficient, and allow companies and parents to choose and directly spend the money.

· Everyone benefits. Parents choose what’s best for their children. Schools can receive funding by partnering with businesses. Companies and parents get tax credits, and most importantly students receive better education and services.