Sedona school officials and students are hoping that more local residents will take advantage of a state tax credit that would support a variety of extracurricular activities.
“Tax credits are a popular way for parents to pay the fees for their children’s sports and band programs. Under the program, donors can direct a portion of their state income tax to a specific program or school. The credits must be used for extracurricular activities or other programs outside the classroom,” according to SedonaKidsTaxCredit.com.
Individual taxpayers can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit up to $200. For those filing jointly, the amount is $400.
Taxpayers need not have a child in the school system to use the Sedona Kids Tax. Any resident of Arizona can contribute to the program.
“The beauty of the Sedona Kids Tax Credit Program is the ability for your tax dollars to be directed here locally for the children of Sedona, to the specific program of your desire,” Sedona Oak Creek School District Superintendent Dave Lykins said. “Investing in our children and their future is an excellent return on your tax dollars.”
Lykins said more information about the program can be found on the website. “It details all of the categories people can specifically donate to. However, there are four basic categories: School-specific general fund; school-specific extracurricular and sports; school-specific educational enhancements; and school-specific field trips.”
The Arizona Department of Revenue defines extracurricular activities as school-sponsored activities that may require enrolled students to pay a fee in order to participate.
Such activities may include, but are not limited to, use of band uniforms, use of equipment or uniforms for varsity athletics, use of scientific laboratory equipment or materials or in-state or out-of-state trips that are solely for competitive events.
Extracurricular activities do not include any senior trips or events that are recreational, amusement or tourist activities.
Generally, any optional, noncredit, educational or recreational activities that supplement the education program of the school are considered to be extracurricular activities.
State statute requires each district school board to determine which activities are extracurricular and what fees will be levied, according to the DOR.
A recently passed Arizona law moves the deadline for claiming the tax credit from Dec. 31 to April 15. The result is that taxpayers can claim the tax credit on their 2016 tax return even if the donation is made in 2017, up to April 15. Another new law allows parents to use tax credits to pay for SAT and Advanced Placement testing fees.
“State budget cuts have already eliminated stipends for teachers offering after-school tutoring to students in all subjects ... math, science, English, history, business and others,” according SedonaKidsTaxCredit.com. “To say that these programs are vital to our kids’ lives and growth is an understatement.”
The website then goes on to make the case for tax credits:
“The state taxes you pay go into a general ‘slush’ fund, where the politicians decide which school districts and communities get what amounts.
“When you take advantage of the Sedona Kids Tax Credit Program, you can tell the state of Arizona ... you want your taxes to go directly to the Sedona school and after-school program of your choice.
“And it doesn’t cost you a single dime to keep these school programs alive. Because the money to support them comes right out of the taxes you’re paying anyway.
“You have the power to keep the school program of your choice alive and flourishing for your kids and the community… and keep your tax dollars in Sedona.”
SOCSD received $130,942 from 590 donors [an average of $222 per donor] for its three schools in 2015: Sedona Red Rock High School [$64,219], Big Park Community School [$45,653] and West Sedona School [$21,070], according to documents the district filed with the state in February. The overall amount was 26.2 percent less than the previous year’s total of $177,525.
None of the schools spent all of their funds in the calendar year of 2015, according to the documents, which, because they were filed in February, didn’t have spending for 2016, which included the second half of the school year.
Of the $27,114 spent by the high school across 11 categories, the five highest expenditures were athletics [$11,342], clubs [$3,659], fine arts [$3,182], music [$2,425] and field trips [$2,322].
For West Sedona, which spent $21,070 across seven categories, the top four were athletics [$4,010], fine arts [$1,932], field trips [$1,841] and clubs [$1,398].
For Big Park, which spent $19,817 across eight categories, fine arts was the biggest expenditure at $8,262, followed by field trips [$5,507], athletics [$3,054] and academic competition [$1,218]. BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS