Utah Tax Credit Policy
UHEA Statement on State-Level Tax Credits
“The UHEA opposes all tax credit proposals that include new regulation or that threaten any new regulation on homeschooler families. Because Utah is presently a low-regulation state homeschool organizations and families in Utah should carefully consider whether a proposed education tax credit imposes any new regulations that do not currently apply to homeschoolers, and whether the proposed legislation is worded in such a way that it would allow other government bodies the authority, by law or by statute, to impose additional regulations on homeschooled families in the future.”
The issue of tax credits for homeschoolers in Utah is a complex one. The Utah Home Education Association (hereafter UHEA) staunchly supports homeschool freedom. Further, the UHEA opposes legislative measures that discriminate against homeschooling families. Finally, the UHEA recognizes that authority is granted to Utah under its state constitution to create and regulate schools (Utah Constitution, Article X), and to dictate tax policy (Utah Constitution, Article XIII).
Utah’s homeschool law and history are important considerations when considering a proposed education tax credit for families that educate their children at home. Over a period of more than 30 years homeschool families in Utah have worked persistently and consistently to erode prejudice and bias against homeschooling that existed in the law and in the community at large. While Utah homeschool families enjoy relatively unregulated educational freedom today, the present favorable conditions have not always existed in Utah.
During Utah’s 2014 Legislative Session, the UHEA worked hard to change and then forward a bill (S.B. 39) that was originally unfriendly to homeschoolers. The amended bill largely deregulated homeschooling in Utah. However, this required the allotment and expenditure of a vast amount of UHEA volunteer resources. During S.B. 39 debate, many differing viewpoints surfaced from the diverse array of legislators on Utah’s Capitol Hill – some supportive of homeschooling freedom and homeschooling in general, and some not.
This historical dialogue and these reflections help elucidate the concerns the UHEA expressed during the recent debate on the proposed homeschool tax credit legislation during the 2015 Legislative Session (H.B. 134). After many meetings with legislators and concerned homeschool families, after offering several proposed amendments, and after diligently seeking freedom based solutions to concerns with the bill that did not materialize the UHEA ultimately opposed the 2015 homeschool tax credit bill.
The UHEA recognizes that attempts may surface to pass similar legislation in the future. The UHEA understands and acknowledges that Utah parents who make the often sacrificial decision to homeschool suffer double-taxation as they are taxed in multiple ways to pay for a public system they do not utilize. The UHEA further recognizes that homeschool parents would like to keep more of their hard-earned money. Education funding is often seen as an obstacle to homeschooling, though studies show that outcomes vary little from low to high educational spending among homeschool families.
The UHEA also understands and acknowledges that liberty is generally diminished when people willingly give up hard-won freedoms in exchange for short-term, monetary benefits that are laced with new regulation. The UHEA recognizes that erosion of educational freedom is not the only reason homeschool families may oppose tax credit legislation; however, the UHEA does not seek to identify or qualify the existing and diverse practical or philosophical objections to education tax credits.
In conclusion, the UHEA presents the following policy with regard to future proposals involving education tax credits that affect homeschooling families.
Today’s laboriously procured and precious freedoms are too valuable to be traded for token government assistance.