Ohio Lawmakers Consider Homeschooler Property Tax Credit
Parents of homeschooled children will pay less in property taxes if a novel bill passes in Ohio. Senate Bill 127, pegged to become effective in 2014, would give homeschoolers a tax credit equal to the proportion of property taxes on their home that fund their local school district.
“Home schooling requires an immense amount of parental involvement, which has many positive benefits for children, but it also involves a great deal of sacrifice,” said bill sponsor and state Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Powell), in a statement. “Families that elect to home-school their children often pay directly out of pocket for many of the materials and other items needed, and my proposal could help significantly in defraying some of these costs.”
A handful of states, including Minnesota and Louisiana, grant tax credits to homeschool families, but none currently offers homeschoolers property tax relief, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
Homeschoolers Interested, Nervous
Homeschoolers expressed have mixed opinions about the proposal. Ohioans for Educational Freedom supports tax credits “since home educating families pay, unfairly, for public education in their property taxes,” said Mark Stevenson, the organization’s founder and director.
But some Ohio homeschoolers are concerned the bill’s passage “would draw attention to us as a whole, and then legislators would be considering ways to regulate us, even more than we are now,” Stevenson said.
Education consultant Melissa Venable already has Ohio on her “strictest states for homeschooling” list. “Many homeschooling families find Ohio to be a difficult state, not due to its laws, but due to school districts with overreaching policies,” she notes.
Ohio homeschoolers must submit education plans annually to their local superintendent, who can reject them. They must also administer state tests each year or create an alternative assessment approved by their district, according to HSLDA.
Christian Home Educators of Ohio suggested changes to the bill to prevent “unintended consequences,’ said legislative liaison Melanie Elsey, but she declined to specify those concerns.
Government School Opposition
Public school advocates, conversely, oppose the credit.
“This just siphons away money that would be used for public education,” Jay Smith, a lobbyist with the Ohio School Boards Association, told Ohio Watchdog.
Ohio is home to approximately 24,000 home-schooled children, and the 2013 Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati attracted 15,000 people.
SB 127 has been assigned to the Senate Ways & Means Committee for further discussion.
Image by Suzy Morris.