It’s back-to-school season and for some parents, this is a happy time.

But for those whose children are stuck in underperforming schools, or schools where they are bullied or are in danger, this is a heartbreaking time, especially if they cannot afford to move or go to private school.

“There was fighting every day. People wanted to shoot me, kill me, and everything,” said Calvin Coleman in a speech about his experiences at his Mobile public high school.

Did you know that you, or your company, can help students like Calvin by donating a portion of what you already owe in state income taxes to a program that funds scholarships for low-income families in Alabama?

WATCH this 1-min video or keep reading to learn how!

“When my son Carlos was in the fifth grade, he was constantly bullied and I wanted to desperately put him into a private school,” wrote Nyenya Webster of Montgomery in Alabama Daily News. Every day was a struggle, she added. “I was at a loss as to what to do to help my son.”

Then Webster learned about the tax-credit scholarship program created in 2013 by the Alabama Accountability Act that serves roughly 4,000 low-income, mostly minority Alabama students.

She applied, and Carlos received a scholarship to attend Success Unlimited Academy in Montgomery.

“Success Unlimited has been a lifesaver for my son,” Webster wrote. “He … is now considering college. My son never talked about going to college before Success.”

For those who want to help other Alabama families break the cycle of poverty through education, it’s a no-brainer.

“For a donor, it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Warren Callaway, executive director of Scholarships For Kids, one of the seven scholarship granting organizations funded by the program.

That’s because a tax credit is different from a charitable contribution. When you make a charitable contribution to a non-profit organization, you deduct a portion of that on your income tax. However, a tax credit allows you to take a dollar for dollar reduction in your state income tax.

“Basically, donors are redirecting some of their state income tax liability to a [scholarship granting organization],” Callaway said. “So, if you give $100 to us, you can reduce your state income tax by $100.”

Who benefits from the donation?

“The average household income for these students is under $30,000 so these are families that would have no other way of choosing the school that is best for their child,” said Ryan Cantrell, director of state strategy and political affairs for the American Federation for Children, during an interview of the 1819 podcast.

Higher-income families have always had school choice, Cantrell said, but “it’s the low-income families who get stuck with no options in under-performing schools or schools that don’t work for their child.”

There is $30 million in tax credits available and, so far, only about a third have been claimed, according to the Department of Revenue’s My Alabama Taxes website.

Here’s how you can reserve your tax credit before the December 31, 2019, deadline:

Step 1: Estimate how much income tax you or your business will owe Alabama next year by checking how much you paid last year. Individuals and corporations can donate up to 50 percent of their tax bill, and while individuals are limited to $50,000, corporations are unlimited.

Step 2: Visit the My Alabama Taxes website and follow instructions for reserving an Alabama Accountability Act tax credit.

Step 3:  Send a check to one of the seven scholarship granting organizations in Alabama within 30 days.

Step 4:When you do your taxes next year, fill out an Alabama Department of Revenue Schedule AATC form to reduce your income tax bill by the amount you donated.

For more help, individuals may call the Alabama Department of Revenue at 334-353-0602 or 334-353-9770, and corporations can call 334-242-1200.

You’re already going to have to write a check for your state income taxes. Why not control where some of that money goes, especially when it has the power to change lives?

“It was a relief that nobody would understand,” said mother-of-five Alleane West in an Alabama Opportunity Scholarship video about the program’s impact on her family. “You know, you’re a single mom with boys trying to not make them a statistic.”

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is a senior fellow at the Alabama Policy Institute. Connect with her at rachel@alabamapolicy.org or on Instagram @RachelBlackmonBryars.


MORE ON 1819 Podcast

1819 Podcast – First-ever Weekly Recap Show Released

Today, API’s 1819 Podcast released it’s first-ever weekly news recap show. Only half-an-hour long, API’s Joshua Pendergrass and Parker Snider discuss recent Alabama and national news through a conservative perspective in this weekly edition of our 1819 Podcast. This week, we discuss The arrival of Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Alabama Senate race […]

1819 Podcast: How Alabama’s small school choice program is making a big difference

Alabama Policy Institute senior fellow J. Pepper Bryars discussed the state’s scholarship program for low-income families on the most recent episode of the 1819 podcast. Bryars shared his own story of moving from a public to a private school during a pivotal time and interviewed Ryan Cantrell, a school choice advocate who was an aide […]

MORE ON Education

Off With Their Heads!

This past week “IT” finally happened. Mississippi surpassed Alabama in overall rankings for K-12 education. What absolute fresh hell is this? In truth it is not that fresh. Alabama has been limping behind the pack for decades and this year’s “Nation’s Report Card” by the National Center for Education Statistics represented a final bottoming out. […]

HUNTSVILLE RADIO: School Choice and Tax Choice in Alabama

API Senior Fellow Rachel Bryars talked with WTKI's Fred Holland about how Alabamians can choose to send some of their income taxes to fund scholarships for low-income kids. They also discussed new research about human trafficking in Alabama and what parents need to watch out for.

MOBILE RADIO: How does ‘school choice’ = ‘tax choice’ in Alabama?

API Sr. Fellow Rachel Blackmon Bryars appeared on Mobile’s 1410 AM 94.5 FM LA Catholic Morning radio show to discuss how Alabamians can help low-income students who are stuck in low-performing schools by redirecting some of their income tax liability to a program that funds scholarships. It costs nothing but a few minutes and is […]

MORE ON Family

Choices Have Consequences, Even for Liberal Politicians

By Dana Hall McCain Americans experienced yet another sex scandal involving an elected leader in recent weeks, culminating in the resignation of freshman Congressman Katie Hill of California. Nude photos were published depicting Hill in a polyamorous, bisexual relationship with her now-estranged husband and a campaign staffer. Additional allegations have surfaced of a more recent […]

Children with Gender Dysphoria need Love and Compassion, Not Gender Reassignment

A recent case in the Texas courts became a catalyst for loud debate regarding the intersection of parental rights and appropriate treatment for gender dysphoria in children. A 7-year-old child of divorced parents, born male, is believed by his mother to be transgender and that his desire to be female should be affirmed. The father […]

Alabama Follows the Law, History in Forgoing Marriage Licenses

For just over a month now, Alabama officials have not issued marriage licenses. They instead record certificates memorializing marital contracts, signed by married couples and notarized. The law authorizing this change is a sensible and principled compromise. Indeed, it might be a model for other states. It accommodates both the opinion of the U.S. Supreme […]

MORE FROM Rachel Blackmon Bryars

Alabama Epstein? It happens here all the time

As the nation learns more about the salacious life and mysterious death of billionaire and serial sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, it’s important to remember his crimes are far from uncommon. In fact, they happen all the time. Even in Alabama. It’s a problem that experts agree is growing, though exact numbers are difficult to quantify, […]

MOBILE RADIO: How does ‘school choice’ = ‘tax choice’ in Alabama?

API Sr. Fellow Rachel Blackmon Bryars appeared on Mobile’s 1410 AM 94.5 FM LA Catholic Morning radio show to discuss how Alabamians can help low-income students who are stuck in low-performing schools by redirecting some of their income tax liability to a program that funds scholarships. It costs nothing but a few minutes and is […]

MOBILE RADIO: An update on Alabama’s pro-life bill

API Senior Fellow Rachel Blackmon Bryars provided an update on Alabama’s landmark abortion bill that is being considered in the state Senate today. Listen to the segment on 1410 AM/94.5 FM WNGL Archangel Catholic Radio: