Tax credit program<br>helps fund activities

Grand Canyon School officials hope to see an upward trend continue this year with its Arizona school tax credit program.

After back-to-back years of declining donation numbers, the school district was happy to see a record $7,250 come in last year through the tax credit. Since the program’s inception in 1998, $21,930 has been donated to the school for extracurricular programs.

"We’ve really taken it seriously in terms of providing opportunities for our students for what our community is willing to do for us," said Ray Vernon, school superintendent. "During the last school year, we’ve had a half dozen new clubs initiated, which really increases the expense for the opportunity to participate in the various extracurricular activities."

The choices for designating where donations will go have grown to 13. To help clear up those choices, the school has published a brochure for those interested in taking advantage of the tax credit.

Through the program, Arizonans can contribute up to $250 to public schools for extracurricular activities and then deduct that amount directly from their state income taxes through the tax credit.

Payments must be received by the school before Dec. 31, but officials recommend contributors act earlier.

The tax credit reduces a household’s taxes up to the limit of their liability. Contributors with liability less than $250 can only get credit up to that amount.

Credits are limited to $200 per individual or $250 for married taxpayers filing jointly. The credits are not available to businesses. The tax credit is available to all taxpayers, whether or not they have children in school.

The contributor must designate where they want the money to go. Choices include:

Elementary/Middle School

o Middle-school athletics

o Imagination Station (art)

o Odyssey of the Mind

o Hiking Club

o Middle-school yearbook

o Dance Team Club

High School

o Athletics

o Outdoors Club

o Odyssey of the Mind

o Spanish Club

o Drumming Club (music)

o Photography Club (art)

o Basketball Club (off-season)

In the two categories for athletics, contributors can designate funds to a particular sports program, if they wish.

Vernon said all money donated through the tax credit goes directly to students for their activities. Club sponsors, for example, are paid through Classroom Site Fund money for their stipends.

"The tax revenue money, everything goes to the students," Vernon said. "None of that goes to the adults. We’ve found other sources to give a small stipend. All that money is for student materials, transportation, etc."

Some of the school’s activities are relying on those funds to help out. For example, last year’s Odyssey of the Mind team that qualified for nationals in Denver used tax credit money to help fund the trip. OM was the largest recipient of tax credit funds last year with $1,250 designated for that purpose.

"The opportunity is there to contribute to the OM program, all the clubs, all our athletic programs, middle school or high school, plus art and music," Vernon said. "At a time like this, it’s extremely valuable and important to us as the district coffers just don’t have that much in them to support these things."

Vernon said studies have shown that offering a wide variety of extracurricular programs can impact the dropout rate.

"We see these opportunities for students as the best dropout prevention measure we can come up with," Vernon said.

The school district received $5,300 in 1998, $5,100 in 1999, $4,280 in 2000 and $7,250 in 2001.

Contributors fill out information for the tax credit on the brochure available at the school district office. Upon payment of the donation, the person will receive a copy of the receipt which can be filed with their tax return.

For more information, call the school at 638-2461.

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