CHN: House Considers Education Tax-Break Measure

Controversy Over Bill Continues The House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill (HR 5193) on September 5 that would give tax deductions to low-income families to cover education expenses such as tuition, transportation, books, and computers. The measure would apply to public, private, religious, and home schooling, for both elementary and secondary education.

The vote on the bill, which was introduced by Representative Bob Schaffer (R-CO), was split largely along party lines, with two Republicans voting against it, and one Democrat voting in the bill’s favor. Democratic opponents criticize HR 5193 as a disguised school voucher proposal that would use public funding for private and religious education, while Republicans contend that the measure would help parents provide important education opportunities for their children.

The bill would provide up to $3,000 in tax deductions for single taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of less than $20,000 and to married couples filing jointly with adjusted gross incomes of less than $40,000. Deductions would only apply to families earning enough money to file taxes, and according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, these deductions would cost an estimated $4.9 billion over two years.

The National Education Association, representing 2.7 million teachers, has voiced its opposition to the bill. The Association of Christian Schools International, with 4,000 school members, sent a letter to Representative Schaffer backing the bill as a significant measure for low-income families’ access to education.

House Republicans canceled the floor vote on HR 5193, which was scheduled for Thursday, September 12. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) attributed the delay to technical considerations, but did not indicate when the bill might be brought up again on the House floor.

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