Amid talk of vouchers and charter schools, the Trump administration should consider significant tax breaks for homeschoolers.
The reasons for homeschooling vary. Some parents want to emphasize a religious education for their children. Others want to avoid the left-leaning indoctrination of public schools. Still others face inadequate or unsafe schools.
According to the National Home Education Research Institute, more than two million students in K-12 are schooled at home. One study found that more than 30 percent of these students are Black, Hispanic or Asian. Moreover, the students and their parents save taxpayers more than $20 billion a year based on an estimated cost of more than $11,000 a year per child for a public school education.
But homeschoolers receive no significant tax breaks for teaching their children.
Homeschools in most states cannot be run as a business or even as a non-profit as parents cannot charge their children for their education. Moreover, homeschoolers cannot deduct donations to their own school. Also, the IRS usually does not allow homeschooling to be considered a hobby, which could reap some limited tax benefits.
Here are some possibilities to make homeschooling more affordable:
–Allow tax breaks for tuition and books purchased from homeschooling businesses.
–Provide deductions for individuals who are the primary teacher.
–Give tax incentives for tutoring in specific subjects, such as math, science and technology.
–Provide a mechanism to receive a reduction in local property taxes, which often are paid to local schools, for individuals who homeschool.
“Open the schoolhouse doors and let parents choose the best school for their children,” Donald Trump says. “Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition-the American way.”
That competition should include incentives and benefits for homeschoolers and their children to allow them to choose an option other than charters and vouchers.
Christopher Harper is a recovering journalist who worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times and teaches media law.