Arizona’s Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program passed in 2006, and it launched in the same year. This tax-credit scholarship program allows corporate taxpayers to receive tax credits for their donations to nonprofit organizations that provide school scholarships to K–12 students from low-income families. Learn more about the program on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history and more.
Arizona’s second tax-credit scholarship program
16,573 scholarships awarded (2014–15)
53 percent of families with children income-eligible statewide
237 participating schools (2014–15)
27 scholarship organizations awarding scholarships (2014–15)
Average scholarship value: $1,892 (2014–15)
Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 26 percent
Arizona offers tax credits to businesses supporting School Tuition Organizations (STOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships to low-income students in need.
Each STO determines the amount of scholarships it distributes. Scholarships are capped at $5,200 in grades K–8 and $6,500 in grades 9–12 for 2016–17. Those amounts increase annually by $100.
Corporate taxpayers contributing to STOs may claim a tax credit equal to the full amount of their contribution. The program is limited to a total of $51.6 million in available tax credits per year, a figure that will rise 20 percent annually.
All students receiving scholarships under this program must come from families whose household incomes are at or below 185 percent of the federal free and reduced-price lunch program ($83,167 for a family of four in 2016–17). Additionally, students must either be (1) enrolled in private school kindergarten, (2) enrolled in a private preschool program for students with disabilities, (3) a public school enrollee for at least 90 days in the previous year or one full semester of the current school year, (4) a dependent of an active-duty member of the military stationed in Arizona or (5) a prior scholarship recipient under this program or the individual tax-credit scholarship program.
Arizona’s corporate tax-credit scholarship program has room to grow, particularly with student eligibility limited to those with family incomes lower than 185 percent of the free and reduced-price lunch threshold. On funding power, the total credit cap of $61.9 million limits both the number of scholarships that can be awarded and the amount of each scholarship ($1,892 per scholarship, on average, in 2014–15), far less than what students receive on average in their public schools. The program’s regulations are reasonable, requiring schools to comply with the state’s private school regulations, including health, safety and nondiscrimination requirements as well as fingerprinting teachers. To make this program more universal, the low-income eligibility requirement would have to be lifted, and the cap on available tax credits would need to be removed or dramatically increased.
Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 43-1183; 43-1501 through 1507; and 20-224.06
On March 12, 2009, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld Arizona’s corporate tax-credit scholarships and the Arizona Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal. Green v. Garriott, 212 P.3d 96 (Ariz. App. 2009).