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The gift that gives back

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Arizonans are accustomed to children selling candy bars, wrapping paper and coupon books to fund equipment, trips and programs. However, there is another way for taxpayers to help local school children — and get a dollar-for-dollar break on their state taxes instead of a tub of cookie dough in return.

The Arizona Tax Credit Program allows a tax credit of up to $200 for an individual and $400 for a married couple filing jointly for cash contributions to a public or charter school for support of extracurricular activities or character education programs.

That’s a dollar-for-dollar credit against any taxes owed to the state, not just a tax-deductible contribution that comes off a person’s adjusted gross income.

For example, say after filling out a state tax return next spring a taxpayer owes $300. But, since the contributor made a $200 donation to a school or district for extracurricular activities this year — the net tax owed would drop to $100.

In most cases, the contribution can also be claimed on the federal tax forms. Contributors should check the federal tax law or consult a tax preparer for more details.

Contributors do not have to live in a particular school district or have a child in school to take advantage of the program. Contributors can identify a particular school or program to receive the money, or leave it up to the district to determine the neediest area that could benefit from the donation.

How to donate

Most districts will accept donations at any school or the district office up until the winter break. After that, most districts will continue to receive donations at district offices, by phone, mail and through secure Internet sites. Check with the school or district for details. Some districts will open their doors Dec. 30 and 31 to get last-minute donations.

“If mailing it in, make sure it’s postmarked by Dec. 31,” said Wendy Qualls, business manager for the Litchfield Elementary School District.
The West Valley View offers a generic donation form for making a school tax credit donations to any public school in the state, the links below have forms for making donations.

Tax-credit contributions also can be made to private schools through a school-tuition organization, which provides scholarships to students. Single taxpayers or heads of households can contribute up to $500, and married couples filing a joint return can contribute up to $1,000.

Questions should be directed to the school or district.

Read Arizona’s Private and Public School Tax Credit Information Publication by clcking HERE.

Please use the links in the left column to download your school district tax credit form. Or, get a generic form HERE.

Note: You'll need Adobe's free Acrobat Reader to view these forms. You can download Acrobat Reader HERE.