Do you have to pay taxes when your child is in private school?
May 7, 2009 5:53 AM   Subscribe

If you put your child in private school, do you still have to pay taxes for education, are you exempt, or do you write it off on your tax return?
posted by FireStyle to Education (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What the. Of course you have to pay taxes. Everybody pays taxes for public education, not just the parents of children in school. Or are you asking something more specific?
posted by billysumday at 5:56 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

What country/state/province are you in?
posted by saradarlin at 5:56 AM on May 7, 2009

I can't think of anyway that you would be able to get around taxes but some areas do allow for tax deductions for any tuition paid, not just university.
posted by saradarlin at 5:57 AM on May 7, 2009

If you live in the US, you're probably paying taxes for public education. This probably impacts you in the form of property taxes. Your taxes [are supposed to] cover a broad-range of things from public safety, public works, fire prevention, and of course, public schools.

If you dig deep into the spending of your taxes, you'll find that you're subsidizing any number of things you don't necessarily want to. Theoretically, that's the reason you should be involved in the process of selecting governance. Of course, in reality, that takes a lot of time and most people don't get out and do anything apart from vote for the President (probably the least-impactful thing they could concern themselves with :-)
posted by jlstitt at 6:01 AM on May 7, 2009

Yes you have to pay the taxes, and that is part of why that "vouchers" issue had some momentum for awhile.
posted by bunnycup at 6:01 AM on May 7, 2009

In the United States, where it seems you live, you still pay your taxes. The periodically proposed school voucher plans would offer more flexibility in this regard. You can't write off private school tuition on your taxes, but voluntary donations are deductible if the school is a non-profit (nearly all are). The school can provide whatever financial aid they want to students. Of course, a school could theoretically offer a large financial aid package in exchange for an equally large "donation," but that would be fraud and I can't see it lasting long.
posted by zachlipton at 6:01 AM on May 7, 2009

I'm assuming you're referring to the US...
Generally, public schools are funded through property taxes (though some areas are trying to move away from this model) And, yes, you still have to pay the taxes. Public education is a community resource available to all citizens regardless of ability to pay. It's a lot like your taxes going to pay for police or fire protection, even though your house never burns or is broken into. We all pay into it because it's a public good to have an educated population.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:06 AM on May 7, 2009 [10 favorites]

Just theoretically speaking, how were you thinking of calculating which taxes you were exempt from?

Public schools in the United States are funded from a mix of local, state, and federal funds. Property taxes, sales taxes, federal income tax, bake sales, and some states even the lottery system fund public education.
posted by polexa at 6:10 AM on May 7, 2009

I believe the available tax credits are for post-secondary education expenses only, but you can check the guidelines here.
posted by davcoo at 6:21 AM on May 7, 2009

You still have to pay education taxes if you are childless. You may have the ability to claim deductions available based on tuition fees for dependents, but those will be jurisdiction-specific.
posted by lowlife at 6:25 AM on May 7, 2009

You still have to pay education taxes if you are childless.

If you live in NYC, you receive a refundable tax credit if you don't have kids.
posted by oaf at 6:32 AM on May 7, 2009

Of course the government can pay a private for-profit company to run a public school for them; that's a for-profit charter school. Some states have minimal tax deductions that could apply towards private school tuition, but I doubt you'd see a significant change in your net tax owed if you got to use one. Finally, there is, sort of, an exception here, albeit a fairly rare special case: if a student has a disability and the district cannot provide reasonable accommodations for the education of that student, the government must pay for appropriate private schooling instead.
posted by zachlipton at 6:38 AM on May 7, 2009

I do believe, though, that you can use a 529 plan for education expenses that are not college-related, in which case you could put tuition money into the account, deduct that from your income for tax purposes, and then pay the tuition from the account. You might want to look into it.
posted by not that girl at 6:59 AM on May 7, 2009

If you don't drive a car do you still have to pay taxes to maintain the roads? The answer is usually yes.
posted by chunking express at 7:31 AM on May 7, 2009

Alternatively to The World Famous' idea, you could move somewhere with good public schools, and probably wind up paying less than private school tuition + property taxes for a comparable education. (unless you're sending your kid to religious school, where the curriculum is different)
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:33 AM on May 7, 2009

In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.

Unless there is some quirk where you live, yes, you pay school taxes whether or not your kids are in school, whether or not they have graduated, whether or not you ever had kids. You pay because we as a society have decided that it is best that kids get an education so that they can grow up to be useful members of society.
posted by caddis at 7:34 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you don't support the Military, the Space Program, Nuclear Weapons Stockpiles, etc.. can you opt of of paying for those taxes?

Can you get a tax deduction for you personal defense systems (if you prefer not to rely on the Government funded alternatives, (Army, Navy etc.)?

In the UK almost everyone seems to pay a National Insurance Contribution which is what funds the NHS, whether you do or do not have Private Insurance.

If you don't want to pay for these things - you could always move to another country. Personally I prefer to live in a somewhat socialist community based Country.
posted by mary8nne at 7:49 AM on May 7, 2009

Sorry, but schools are paid for by the property taxes in the county where you live. So, there is not a way for you to not pay these (unless you want to lose your property).

Our taxation system is not a la carte.
posted by reenum at 7:51 AM on May 7, 2009

I don't have kids and I still pay taxes - federal, state and local. Property taxes just went up thanks to an override and now I get to pay more! In a recession! Yay!

So yes, you have to too.
posted by jerseygirl at 7:53 AM on May 7, 2009

I have no children and no plans to have any. I am happy to pay the property tax which funds public schools because I think it's important for the children in the community to know how to read and write and reason and grow up to become police officers, firemen, store clerks, nurses, doctors, etc, etc. I need them, and I imagine you do, too, and of course, you have to pay the tax.

The way I read your question, it looks like you're also asking if you can deduct the amount of the tax from your income tax return. Assuming you itemize deductions, yes.
posted by Robert Angelo at 9:17 AM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yes, you must pay them. Do single people pay property taxes?

Americans choose what public school their children attend by moving to better neighborhoods, which provides an incredible force for class-by-income separation. Private schools are usually for religious freaks who can't handle their children being exposed to popular culture. But most private schools are actually party schools because the parents rich, incidentally choosing to also pay for good public schools too by living in expensive neighborhoods.

If you want a good deal on grad school education, get your kids into a magnet program within the public system, so that you can live in a cheap part of town. But your kids might need brains for this approach.

You should consider moving to Georgia if your kids are smart & you want a great deal on education. Georgia Tech is the #4 or #5 engineering school in the country, free to most good students who complete high school in Georgia, and various magnet programs exist for high school too.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:25 AM on May 7, 2009

When I was enrolled in a private high school, my parents chose to move two towns over, where there were lower property taxes and correspondingly shitty schools. So, they did still have to pay taxes for schools our family wasn't using, but they found a way to reduce their tax burden.
posted by shiny blue object at 10:26 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Mod note: comment removed - please take metacommentary to metatalk or email, thank you
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:37 AM on May 7, 2009

Looking at the OP's history, he seems to be a grad student with roommate issues and car that he wants to pimp. I'm guessing he's not a parent paying for fancy private school and trying to dodge paying for poor children's education.
posted by artychoke at 11:43 AM on May 7, 2009

To expand on what Robert Angelo said, in the US property taxes are deductible on your federal tax return regardless of whether you have children and where they go to school. Likewise with state and local income taxes, and with sales taxes if you choose to deduct those instead of income taxes. All you have to do is itemize.
posted by expialidocious at 12:47 PM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I went to a private high school in the US, and my parents loudly bemoaned the fact that they still had to pay taxes going towards the public schools. Loudly enough that ten years later, there's no doubt in my mind that yes, you still pay taxes for education if you send your kid to private school.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:20 PM on May 7, 2009

Response by poster: Whew, thanks for the responses! To be clear, no, I am not trying to evade taxes... I was a teacher, and I'm more than happy to fund education.

But I also, haven't lived on my own for too long either, so I was just inquiring to get a better understanding... a nice launching pad into further personal research on the tax code. Thanks for helping to further my personal study =)
posted by FireStyle at 2:06 AM on May 8, 2009

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