Create a tax credit for caregivers with kids in private schools

Photo: Tabor impact $3.80

This article is part of our look at potential refunds from the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. Learn more about how TABOR works here.

Title: SB15-045 Tax Credits For Nonpublic Education

Sponsors: Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud)

Status: Introduced and assigned to the Senate Education Committee on Jan. 7. On Feb. 5, the unamended bill was referred to the Finance Committee. On Feb. 10, the still unamended bill was referred to the Appropriations Committee. On March 13, the Appropriations Committee referred the bill to the Senate. The House Education Committee killed the bill on April 27.

What the bill would have done: Parents who move their children from public to private school, or start homeschooling them, would be able to claim a tax credit. For families with children in private school the credit would be worth half of what the state spends per-pupil on public school students. Families that home school could claim a $1,000 credit.

How it would have affected your refund: This bill would have reduced the average taxpayer refund by $3.80 in the fiscal year for 2015-16.

What's being said about this bill:

Todd Engdahl on Feb. 5, writing for Chalkbeat Colorado:

Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud and prime sponsor of the tax-credits measure, Senate Bill 15-045, argued that the bill is needed to give more support to private schools and home schooling. The current system “encourages in every way public schools and pretty much tolerates private schools and home schooling. This bill is intended simply to change that policy,” he said.

The witness list for the bill was surprisingly short, and committee members took more time discussing the bill than advocates did supporting or opposing it. Democratic committee members took up a fair amount of time with unsuccessful amendments designed to make points about other issues like education funding and non-discrimination.

Joshua Sharf on Feb. 10, writing for

The bill was opposed by the usual coalition of teachers’ unions, their supporters, and the education bureaucracy, while being supported by private schools, home-school advocates, and a former public school special education teacher.

Opponents, who derided the tax credits as “back-door vouchers,” cited the use of public dollars to fund private education, and claimed that private schools enjoy an unfair advantage by being exempt from non-discrimination clauses, accountability measures, and testing regimes that public schools are subject to. They also noted that the tax credit extended to all parents regardless of income.