By Maggie Thurber | For Ohio Watchdog
Since the beginning of the home-schooling trend, parents have noted that they pay double to educate their children — once for the education they’re providing at home and again in the property and other taxes they pay to the local school district for public education.
“Home-school students are taught with no financial assistance from government,” said Sen. Kris Jordan, R-Ostrander, the bill’s sponsor. “I think that (it) is only right to allow these families to keep more of their hard-earned dollars to make up for the cost of educating their children.”
Under the terms of the legislation, a home-school parent would make application to the county auditor for a reduction equal to the school district property taxes that are levied on the parent’s home. Reductions would begin in the 2014 tax year for taxes paid in 2015.
The applications would require information necessary to establish eligibility for the reduction, but must include a certified copy of the papers filed by school district superintendent showing the qualifications of the person conducting the home schooling.
If an application is denied, the reasons must be provided and the parent may appeal the denial to the county’s board of revision.
Jay Smith, a lobbyist with the Ohio School Board Association, said the OSBA does not support the bill.
“We see public education as a benefit for society and this just siphons away money that would be used for public education,” he said. “We will definitely participate if there is opponent testimony for the bill. We usually do when there is an issue that generates money for public education.”
Smith also said there were concerns about how such a provision would actually function.
“If there was lost revenue due to a tax credit — or any bill — we’d want to see that replaced,” he said.
Melanie Elsey, the legislative liaison for the nonprofit Christian Home Educators of Ohio, said her group supports the idea of a property tax reduction, but has some concerns about how the language is constructed.
“We’re working with Sen. Jordan and the Home School Legal Defense Association to address those concerns and expect that there will be some willingness to make changes to ensure there are no unintended consequences,” she said.
The bill is pending in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.