CHEO sent out information last summer on a $250 home education tax credit provision of the state budget. We have received a few questions on this new state policy, so the purpose of this update is to provide a little clarification.
The definitions in state law – RC 5747.72(A) – are limited.
The “qualifying taxpayer” is someone who is a taxpayer with a dependent who is a qualifying student. This is helpful for clarity because not everyone providing instruction to a home educated student claims that student as a dependent.
The “qualifying student” is one who is excused from the compulsory attendance law for the purpose of home instruction. This is very specific and would not include 08 students or public e-school at home students.
The “education expenses” allowed to be used for a tax credit are specific categories (i.e., books, supplementary materials, supplies, computer software, applications or subscriptions) not products that a tax commissioner is permitted to approve . Educational expenses not permitted are: computers or similar electronic devices or accessories thereto. What is permitted and not permitted as a claim are finite lists.
The statute allows the tax commissioner to request that the taxpayer claiming the credit provide information to support the claim. There is no language in the tax code that gives any level of authority to the tax commissioner to disapprove a specific product if it fits the category (e.g. a textbook purchase). There is no law that creates a state qualified list of products or materials. This credit only describes a specific list of categories of expenses. It will not change a parent’s right to make decisions on products as a consumer.
The tax commissioner is permitted to request certain documentation, such as:
- a copy of your excusal letter to verify that you are a home educating parent
- Proof of expenses paid (i.e. a cancelled check)
- Proof the expense is allowable (fits the categories in statute)
Parents my choose to provide the verifying documents when filing their state taxes or wait to see if the information is requested by the tax commissioner.