In 2012, through the efforts of the Virginia Catholic Conference and other school choice advocates, the General Assembly created the Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits (EISTC) program to expand educational options for low-income children.  And thanks to a change approved by the General Assembly and Governor McAuliffe just weeks ago, the program’s state tax credit is a better deal than ever for donors!

The EISTC program allows individuals and businesses who make donations to approved scholarship foundations to receive a 65% state income tax credit, in additional to a federal tax deduction. The foundations, in turn, use the donated money to provide scholarships to low-income K-12 students who wish to attend nonpublic schools.

But until earlier this month donations were burdened by a technicality: a one-year delay between the tax year in which a donation was made to a scholarship foundation and the tax year in which the credit for the donation could be claimed.  To fix the problem, Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-72nd) and Senator Bill Stanley (R-20th) offered legislation in January to eliminate the one-year delay.  The measure passed both the House and the Senate with bipartisan support and was signed into law by Governor McAuliffe on March 5.

The EISTC program makes a wider range of opportunities possible for students who might otherwise not be able to afford them. Students are eligible if they meet certain income requirements and are currently in a Virginia public school (or are entering kindergarten or first grade, or are moving to Virginia from out of state). Already, more than 80 low-income students entered Catholic schools across the Commonwealth last fall through EISTC program donations. Now, the elimination of the one-year delay should attract more donors and thereby enable many more students to attend the schools of their choice.

Will you help a low-income student receive the invaluable gift of a Catholic education? Please consider making a donation to one of the two Catholic scholarship foundations.  Donations must be preapproved by the Department of Education, so contact the McMahon Parater Foundation, serving the Diocese of Richmond, or the Diocese of Arlington Scholarship Foundation for more information on how to make a tax credit eligible donation.