Here come the W2s, and your chance to help public schools

Welcome to 2017. Soon, credit card bills from all those Christmas presents we couldn’t afford will be catching up to us, New Year’s resolutions will undoubtedly be broken and W2s will show up on our doorsteps.

Just when we’re finally taking a breath from all the holiday hullabaloo, we’ve been tasked with another task — filing our income tax returns.

Some of us look forward to it. You know who you are, those of you who elect to loan the government your money throughout the year so it can pay you back with zero interest the following year and call it a refund.

Some of us don’t look forward to it. You know who you are, you’ve either elected to pay less than you know you should be paying in taxes throughout the year and will surely be looking at a tax bill, or you’re hopeful that you’ve elected to pay the magical amount, which would end in a wash, but in your heart, you know better.

But we’ve got some great news for those of you who fall into Category 2. You can still donate to the public school of your choice, in the extra curriculum and/or character education program of your choice, right up until April 18, the deadline to file your income tax return this year. So you can figure out how much you will owe, make a donation that will offset that amount (up to $200 for individuals and $400 for couples who file jointly) and then file your tax return. That’s right, folks, it’s a tax credit, not a deduction, which means every dollar you donate will be subtracted from what you owe in taxes.

And here’s a little something you might not have known — you can earmark the donation for your own child and still take the tax credit. So say your daughter wants to join the marching band but you can’t afford the uniform or your son wants to join the football team but the pads are just too pricey, you can specify that your donation goes to your daughter’s band uniform or your son’s football pads.

Also qualifying for the tax credit are donations for standardized testing for college credit or readiness, career and technical education industry certification assessment, preparation courses and materials for standardized testing and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training.

The Arizona Department of Revenue explains which activities and programs qualify for the school tax credit at www.azdor.gov (click on “Tax Credits on the left side of the page and then on “Public School Tax Credit”).

We say this every year, but wouldn’t you rather be the one who dictates where your tax money goes instead of just handing it over to the government and letting those jokers decide?

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