Monday, April 4, 2011

Understanding Education Tax Credits

Following my comments posted to Bob Braun's NJ Star-Ledger article and published here on 3/26/11, N.J. vouchers would wrongly use taxes for schools with religious affiliations, two correspondents posted rebuttals to my comments. Here are their rebuttals and my posted responses:

Really? February 12, 2011 at 1:17AM

Maybe I am completely mistaken - but the corporations get to "donate" the scholarship funds and then get a complete tax write off on those funds. If I donate $100 to something and there is a tax law that says I can completely get my money back when I do my I really donating $100? No, I am simply playing some crappy political game.

If I donate that $100, and my money goes to some kid for a scholarship to a private school, my private money went to that private school...ok fine. But when I do my taxes, and get to claim that I donated that the private (possibly religious) school, and get all of my $100 back...who just gave me my money back? Oh yeah - the State of NJ. And by the state of NJ, I mean the tax payer of NJ. I'm sorry - it really isn't too hard to put 2 and 2 together here. Just because my money went in one end (to the private school) and came out the other (in the form of a tax refund) , doesn't mean I can't figure out where the money actually came from...the tax payer. What do I care? I just got my $100 back and I get to feel good about myself!

Really? You are falling for this crap?

zemack February 12, 2011 at 3:58PM


Facts aren't "crap". Who is "the tax payer"? It's you. You earned the $100. You spent it. At tax time, you're not getting it "back". You're simply not sending it to the government. No other taxpayer is involved. In the case of education tax credits, money spent on education doesn't change. What changes is who decides how it is spent. In you're example, you - the one who earned the hundred bucks to begin with - decides, rather than some government bureaucrat.

What complicates the issue is that, even with tax credits, compulsory taxation still underpins the system. This creates the illusion that the state owns your money, and that any reduction in your tax burden is a gift from the state, paid for out of other people's taxes. But, as long as your money goes toward the intended purpose - in this case education - you are not getting anything from the state or other taxpayers. You are simply gaining greater freedom to act upon your own judgement, with your own money - an unalienable individual right that has too long been neglected.

seestraight February 11, 2011 at 8:09PM

Without public education the country becomes like some third world country. Most people go through public education. Better to have millions ignorant than half-decently educated? I think not.--Not for us allYou want to eliminate it? or only pay for it if they teach what you personally think they should? What should we do poll every taxpayer and if they dont like this or that, they dont have to pay? Do that every year? Every course? Every semester? Every teacher? Get real. We need public education to compete with the world and to have our country-- the whole country do well. 25 educated kids and 100,000 ignorant? No skills? Yea-- that house will stand, but not for long.

zemack February 12, 2011 at 4:02PM


"What should we do poll every taxpayer and if they dont like this or that, they dont have to pay? Do that every year? Every course? Every semester? Every teacher?"

Yes, except that there would be no need for a poll. In a free market, everyone would be free to act upon their own individual judgement in regard to education. Parents and educators would be free to contract voluntarily with each other - the parents in pursuit of the best education that meets the needs of their own children and their own wallets, and educators competing for their business based upon educational philosophy, price, and overall quality.

I agree, without education "the country becomes like some third world country". What we shouldn't have is government-run schools. But your basic premise that without compulsory "public education" only 25 out of every 100,000 kids would be educated implies that almost no parent values education. But, if so few in the country valued education, then no school system would work, whether government-run or private. Your argument is self-refuting and absurd on its face.

Education is a supreme value. Almost everyone agrees. That's why we need to get government out of the business of financing and running the schools.


Michael said...

to the second commenter ask him why he feels the need to force people to participate? Would people not trust current school administrations and teachers without being forced like slaves?

Mike Zemack said...

Excellent point! It's all about force vs. voluntarism. I addressed this very issue in another comment to this same article:

"To Bob Braun, the teachers union, and all other reactionary defenders of the status quo, I ask: Why do you insist on maintaining a public system that collects its revenues and students by the legalized force of compulsory taxation and compulsory attendance laws? Don’t you believe that parents exercising their moral right to act on their own judgement with their own money would voluntarily choose your schools for their children, and voluntarily pay for them?"

bil_d said...

Mr. LaFerrara, I have written a bit on this topic and I would like to forward to you those items..

You can contact me with an email address to use for you at

Kind Regards,
B Danielson