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The Push For Tuituon Tax Credits


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#1 WolfishMusings

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:20 AM

I was mass-forwarded the following email today and was urged to sign it and forward it to as many people as possible:

An Urgent Message to all of our Community Members, from Rabbi Eli Mansour.
Dear Friends,

There is an effort to pass a dollar for dollar tax credit, supported by our own Governor George Pataki, Republican Martin Golden, and Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the newly elected Chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, that would provide massive financial relief to parents with children in private schools, parents who spend money having their children tutored, and parents who enroll their children in summer camps.

Needless to say, private school tuition costs are one of, if not the largest monetary burden facing our families. If this bill, which is coming before the New York State Legislature next month, were to pass, - the strain on many of our community?s organizations, including; the Sephardic Bikur Holim, the Sephardic Angel Fund, the Sephardic Food Fund, and even Sephardic SAFE, will be greatly reduced. Even our Yeshiva?s will be less pressured, as the need to provide student scholarships and discounted tuition costs will be sharply reduced.

My speech this past Saturday detailed my concern for this issue of enormous importance to our people, and their way of life. As of today, Monday, February 13, 2006, I am officially declaring the need for a full-scale campaign to strongly indicate the New York Jewish Community?s full support of this legislation. All of you are being asked to please take a moment to sign the attached petition letter and submit it to Governor Pataki, Senator Golden, and Assemblyman Lopez.

To show the strength of our numbers, please have each household member sign individually, and it is also suggested that we reach out to our friends, business contacts, etc., in the Ashkenaz communities for their additional support and camaraderie. Also, our schools are urged to join in this effort and develop immediate coordinated approaches for allowing our voices to be heard.

Again, the passing of this bill could provide the biggest boost to the economy of our community members in many decades. Please act now on this important issue, and help us express appreciation and support for the Governor, Senator Golden, and Assemblyman Lopez, and for this groundbreaking legislation.

Warmest Regards,

Rabbi Eli Mansour


If my understanding of this is correct, the general idea is that we should support a bill in the legislature that will provide a $500 tax credit to private school parents to help defray the rising costs of tuition. Certainly, that's how the bill is being presented to the members of the New York State Senate and Assembly - as a measure to help parents pay the costs of tuition.

However, I'm struck by the following paragraph in Rabbi Monsour's letter (bolding mine)

Needless to say, private school tuition costs are one of, if not the largest monetary burden facing our families. If this bill, which is coming before the New York State Legislature next month, were to pass, - the strain on many of our community?s organizations, including; the Sephardic Bikur Holim, the Sephardic Angel Fund, the Sephardic Food Fund, and even Sephardic SAFE, will be greatly reduced. Even our Yeshiva?s will be less pressured, as the need to provide student scholarships and discounted tuition costs will be sharply reduced.


In his first statement, Rabbi Monsour is certainly correct. Private school tuitions *are* one of the largest costs facing families that send their children to yeshivos, parochial or other private schools. However, by the time he gets to the last sentence, he seems to have forgotten the first. My understanding of his last sentence (and if you have a different interpretation, I'd like to hear it) is that yeshivos will be able to reduce scholarships that they provide to parents who can't afford it, because the parents will have extra money to pay. In other words, the bill that is supposed to provide monetary relief to families, in fact, will provide none. If the scholarships for families that have them will be reduced by the amount of the tax credit, then the net change in cost to the parent will be zero. That is not a relief for parents.

I find this all just a bit dishonest. If one wants to frame the bill as a measure to increase funding to schools, then by all means, frame it that way. But I find that framing it as a relief for parents when (as my reading of Rabbi Monsour's statements) in fact, the parents will see no real monetary benefit from it, is just dishonest.

What do you think?

The Wolf

#2 chaimsmom

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:22 AM

I am against tuition tax credits, vouchers, etc. for exactly the reasons you state. I don't think it will end up helping parents much, if at all.

#3 Psychodad

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:24 AM

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#4 chaimsmom

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:27 AM

Why do you say that?

I think Wolf explained it rather well.

#5 Psychodad

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:34 AM

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#6 skifree

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:37 AM

I am against tuition tax credits, vouchers, etc. for exactly the reasons you state. I don't think it will end up helping parents much, if at all.

I heard that tuition will be lowered with these tax credits. That is why it is going into effect.
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#7 WolfishMusings

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:44 AM

:blink: Where do you think yeshivos get their money from?


From the parents.

As I said - if the bill were framed as "let's get more funding for schools," I wouldn't be so peturbed. But it's being sold as "let's help the parents" and the parents aren't likely to see any help (as stated by Rabbi Monsour).

So you think it's fair that religious people pay tax money for schooling but that money doesn't go to schools their kids actually attend?
Maybe some schools would actually use the money to benefit the students.


It's certainly possible that the money will benefit the students. But be honest about the nature of the bill.

Your first question, in any event, is really a non-issue. All taxpayers pay for public schools, whether they have kids in public school, private school, or even if they have no kids at all. Or are you proposing that only public-school parents pay for public school?

The Wolf

I heard that tuition will be lowered with these tax credits. That is why it is going into effect.


That seems to be belied by Rabbi Monsour's statement.

The Wolf

#8 skifree

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:46 AM

That seems to be belied by Rabbi Monsour's statement.

The Wolf
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Why do you think this won't happen?
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#9 WolfishMusings

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:52 AM

That seems to be belied by Rabbi Monsour's statement.

The Wolf

Why do you think this won't happen?


Let's put the shoe on the other foot. Why do you think that a bill, which is supposed to provide tuition-relief to parents by allowing them a tax credit for monies spent on tuition will result in lower tuitions? Will this cause a school's operating costs to be lower? Of course not. So, why should tuitions drop as a result of this bill? It's not as if the money is going directly to the schools.

On the other hand, this *can* cause tuitions to rise. Yeshivos (and other private schools) will realize that parents now have more money to spend and can afford higher tuitions.

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#10 skifree

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:54 AM

Let's put the shoe on the other foot. Why do you think that a bill, which is supposed to provide tuition-relief to parents by allowing them a tax credit for monies spent on tuition will result in lower tuitions? Will this cause a school's operating costs to be lower? Of course not. So, why should tuitions drop as a result of this bill? It's not as if the money is going directly to the schools.

On the other hand, this *can* cause tuitions to rise. Yeshivos (and other private schools) will realize that parents now have more money to spend and can afford higher tuitions.

The Wold

I thought the money was going back to the schools, so that is why people think tuition will be lowered.
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#11 WolfishMusings

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:04 AM

I thought the money was going back to the schools, so that is why people think tuition will be lowered.


No.

The money goes to the parents in the form of a tax-credit. For example, if a family has a $10,000 tax bill for the year and sends their kids to private school, the parents will recieve a tax credit (a deduction off their tax bill) for part of the amount of the tuition. So, instead of paying $10K in taxes, they'll only pay $9.5K, or $9K, or whatever, depending on the amount of the credit.

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#12 skifree

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:07 AM

No.

The money goes to the parents in the form of a tax-credit. For example, if a family has a $10,000 tax bill for the year and sends their kids to private school, the parents will recieve a tax credit (a deduction off their tax bill) for part of the amount of the tuition. So, instead of paying $10K in taxes, they'll only pay $9.5K, or $9K, or whatever, depending on the amount of the credit.

The Wolf

We are still saving money even if we don't see the money.
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#13 WolfishMusings

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:17 AM

We are still saving money even if we don't see the money.


Not if (as according to Rabbi Monsour) scholarships are going to be cut.

In other words, if full tuition at your school is $8K, but you're getting a $2K scholarship (so that you're paying $6K) and you now get a tax credit of $1K (for example) and the school then cuts your scholarship by $1K, what are you saving? It's simply another $1,000 for the school.

I'm not patently opposed to the idea of giving schools extra money for students. What I am opposed to is the dishonesty in framing it as relief for parents when the situation for the parents will not change for the better (financially).

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#14 skifree

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:20 AM

Not if (as according to Rabbi Monsour) scholarships are going to be cut.

In other words, if full tuition at your school is $8K, but you're getting a $2K scholarship (so that you're paying $6K) and you now get a tax credit of $1K (for example) and the school then cuts your scholarship by $1K, what are you saving? It's simply another $1,000 for the school.

I'm not patently opposed to the idea of giving schools extra money for students. What I am opposed to is the dishonesty in framing it as relief for parents when the situation for the parents will not change for the better (financially).

The Wolf

I sure hope you end up being wrong!
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#15 WolfishMusings

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:22 AM

I sure hope you end up being wrong!


I'd hope so too. But Rabbi Monsour seems to have it spelled out that I am not.

The Wolf

#16 skifree

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:23 AM

I'd hope so too. But Rabbi Monsour seems to have it spelled out that I am not.

The Wolf

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#17 chaimsmom

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:32 AM

:blink: Where do you think yeshivos get their money from?
So you think it's fair that religious people pay tax money for schooling but that money doesn't go to schools their kids actually attend?

Lots of tax payers pay for lots of things they end up not using. Fair or not, that's the way our system works. I don't get a tax credit for homeschooling my kid, I don't get a tax credit if my house doesn't burn down (saving the fire department money), I don't get a tax credit if I don't get arrested (saving the police department money), etc. If you want to talk about fair, I don't think it's fair that religious organizations are exempt from paying property taxes. But again, fair or not, that't the system.

BTW - I think Wolf's economic analysis is brilliant. I've been saying the same thing for years.

#18 shaya_getzl

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:34 AM

Everione suports Tuituon tax credits. Speshelly towards grammer.
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#19 Kalashnikover_Rebbe

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:39 AM

Not if (as according to Rabbi Monsour) scholarships are going to be cut.

In other words, if full tuition at your school is $8K, but you're getting a $2K scholarship (so that you're paying $6K) and you now get a tax credit of $1K (for example) and the school then cuts your scholarship by $1K, what are you saving? It's simply another $1,000 for the school.


Except that the "regular" tuition only costs so much because it has to cover all the people who don't pay full price. If the price was $8000 and someone gets a $1000 tax credit he can now afford to pay $7000 meaning that the person that all the people paying full price need to pay less. That IS if the schools really lower the tuition and don't just keep the money.
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#20 chaimsmom

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:46 AM

That IS if the schools really lower the tuition and don't just keep the money.

Excellent point. Look at what the availability of student loans has done to the cost of college tuitions.




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