In early October, the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC) sought public input on its proposed rules for the state’s new Parental Choice Tax Credit. The universal, refundable tax credit is available to families who choose to educate their kids outside of their local public school, providing up to $7,500 per student for families who choose approved private schools, and $1,000 for families who choose homeschooling.
Whitney Marsh, director of policy operations for yes. every kid. foundation., offered several recommendations on how they could craft their rules “to offer a cost-effective way for families to direct education funding with minimal red tape” with the understanding that the ideal policy directly suits families’ needs and empowers them to choose the best educational fit for their kids.
On Oct. 27, OTC unanimously adopted changes to the rules following public comment – in the form of emergency rulemaking – which are intended to quickly go into effect. Several of the commission’s rules for the Parental Choice Tax Credit were amended to accommodate Marsh’s recommendations. Among these were eliminating the definition of “another accrediting association,” direction for OTC to create a standardized affidavit for families, and lowering barriers for private schools to participate in the program by instituting electronic verification and online participation agreements.
While Marsh’s comments were mostly heeded, unfortunately several rules were not altered to better serve families. For instance, those claiming the credit for private school may only do so on their application, not their income tax filing. In this iteration, the program functions more like a voucher than a pure tax credit. The director of OTC said they cannot adjust the application calendar to fit the school year unless the law is changed.
Yes Foundation expects there may be legislation on this next session, but until then, as long as neither the governor nor the legislature stop the current draft rules, families will have the power to choose this credit to support their kid’s unique education.
Oklahoma began accepting applications from families looking to utilize the new tax credit on December 1.