The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman's Vision of School Choice for All Children

Illinois - Tax Credits for Educational Expenses

Enacted 1999 • Launched 2000 • Individual Tax Credit

Illinois allows individuals to claim a credit for educational expenses for dependent students attending a private or public school or being homeschooled. Qualified expenses include tuition, books, and lab or activity fees. The credit is worth a maximum of $500.

Latest Stats (2011)

  • Taxpayers participating: 293,509
  • Average tax credit value: $277

Program Details

Tax Credit Value
Parents receive a tax credit worth 25 percent of their expenditures after the first $250, up to a maximum credit of $500 per family. To get the maximum $500 credit, parents must spend $2,250 on educational expenses; they also must have a state tax liability of at least $500 because the credit is nonrefundable and thus cannot reduce an individual’s tax burden to less than zero.

Student Eligibility
Educational expenses must be for students who are residents of Illinois, who are younger than 21, and have attended kindergarten through 12th grade in a public or private school in Illinois or were homeschooled.

Legal Developments
In 1999, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Education Association, and the People for the American Way brought two lawsuits in state court arguing the program violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and religion clauses of the Illinois Constitution. Illinois appellate courts upheld the programs and the Illinois Supreme Court refused to grant appeals. Toney v. Bower, 744 N.E.2d 351 (Ill. App. 4th Dist. 2001), appeal denied, 195 N.E.2d 573 (Ill. 2001); Griffith v. Bower, 747 N.E.2d 423 (Ill. App. 5th Dist. 2001), appeal denied, 755 N.E.2d 477 (Ill. 2001).

Rules & Regulations
• Income Limit: None
• Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
• Geographic Limit: Statewide
• Enrollment Cap: None
• Individual Credit Cap: $500
• Testing Mandates: None

Governing Statutes
35 ILCS5/Art.2, Sec.201 (m), Illinois Compiled Statutes

Friedman Contact
Doran Moreland |

Related Research

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10/1/2005 Using School Choice: Analyzing How Parents Access Educational Freedom
1/1/2003 Grading Vouchers: Ranking America’s School Choice Programs

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