The New Hampshire Education Tax Credit Program, enacted in 2012 and launched in 2013, gives tax credits to businesses and individuals that donate to scholarship-granting non-profits. Families who meet the income requirements can receive scholarships they may use towards private schooling, tutoring, online learning, classes at colleges or universities, and/or homeschooling expenses. Learn more about this tax-credit scholarship program, including average scholarship value, rules, and regulations, on this page.
America’s only tax-credit scholarship program in which homeschool students also are eligible
388 participating students (Fall 2018)
34 percent of families with children income-eligible statewide
2 scholarship organization awarding scholarships (2018)
51 participating schools (2017–18)
Average scholarship value: $2,301 (Fall 2018)
Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 15 percent
New Hampshire offers tax credits to businesses and individuals supporting Scholarship Organizations (SOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships or home school support to students in need.
Individuals subject to New Hampshire’s interest and dividends tax and businesses may receive 85 percent tax credits for donations to scholarship organizations (SOs). The average value of all non-homeschooling scholarships an SO awards cannot exceed $2,762 in 2018–19, except for students with special needs, whose scholarships cannot be less than $4,834. That amount is adjusted each year to reflect the changes in the Consumer Price Index. Homeschooling students may receive reimbursements for educational expenses.
Students must be between ages 5 and 20 and come from households where family income is less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($75,300 for a family of four in 2018–19). In the first two years of the program, scholarship organizations were required to award 70 percent of scholarship funds to students who previously attended a public school (“switchers”) or to switchers who already received a scholarship. However, beginning in the third year, the percentage of required switchers reduced by 5 percent each year. In 2019–20, the program will require at least 40 percent of scholarship recipients to be switchers. Additionally, 40 percent of the total scholarships SOs award must be given to students who qualify for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program.
New Hampshire’s tax-credit scholarship program is the most expansive in the nation in terms of how parents may use their funds to customize their child’s education. It more closely resembles education savings accounts than other tax-credit scholarship programs. The program also avoids unnecessarily burdensome school regulations. To participate, private schools simply must be approved under state law. On funding and eligibility, however, the program has considerable room to grow. Although the average value of scholarships given to all other students is adjusted at the end of each year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index, the current general cap of $2,762 would be more beneficial to families if raised closer to the level of funds otherwise appropriated for a child’s education in a public school. As for eligibility, the program is limited by income and by the statewide cap on tax credits, making scholarships available to fewer than 1 percent of students statewide. Lawmakers should be applauded for allowing individuals to take tax credits against the interest and dividends tax, as this will allow the scholarship organizations to serve more students. Unfortunately, however, lawmakers eliminated the provision that automatically increased the credit cap each year.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court issued a decision upholding the state’s tax-credit scholarship program on August 28, 2014. This case positioned individuals represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State against the state’s tax-credit scholarship program. In the decision, the court dismissed the lawsuit due to lack of standing by the defendants. The Court reasoned they were unable to show harm caused by the program. The justices overturned a previous lower court ruling, which disallowed scholarships to schools that were religiously affiliated. The program will be allowed to continue unabated. Duncan v. State, 102 A.3d 913 (N.H. 2014).
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