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May 06, 1978 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1978-05-06

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The Michigan Daily-Saturday, May 6, 1978-Page 5

Tax credits needed

~ I

By Charles Vanik
WASHINGTON - The ravages of in-
flation and spiraling education costs, as
every parent in America knows, have
now gone beyond tolerable limits. The
entire private educational system,
which has made a tremendous con-
tribution to the diversity and intelligen-
ce of our national life, is imperiled by
the astronomical tuition charges many
American families, poor as well as af-
fluent, now must pay.
What can Congress do, both to relieve
the financial burden on hard-pressed
families, and to ensure that private
education continues to bear educational
burdens which otherwise would have to
be passed on to the public school
system? I am convinced a tuition tax
credit is essential to assure the survival
of our dual system of education - a
system which has improved learning in
both private and public schools.
MY PROPOSAL FOR a tuition tax
credit would provide a $100 credit for
u~p to 50 per cent of tuition expenses in
private elementary and secondary
schools. It also would provide a $250
credit for up to 50per cent of tuition ex-
penses in private colleges. This
program, when fully implemented,
would provide middle- and low-income
families with crucial tax relief, and in-
volve only a modest revenue loss of $1.2
Critics also err when they claim
tuition merely benefits elitist
education. For all practical purposes,
the private school system is open to all
- it cannot discriminate or encourage
segregation. More than many realize, it
serves the poor. In major American
cities, private school students come
from poor, as well as lower and middle
income families. In Los Angeles, for
example, 53 per cent of the private
elementary school enrollment is from
minority groups. Private schools have
complied with integration requiremen-
ts more quietly and more peacefully

fact, the costs of the tuition tax credit
would be more than outweighed by the
benefits it would produce. A $100 tuition
credit for each student in elementary
and secondary education is matched
with $500 or $600 of private support. A
$250 tuition credit per college student is
matched with at least $1000 of sup-
plemental private support. No tax in-
centive program in America can
provide so great a benefit ratio in the
tax credit expenditure.
WHILE THERE is uncertainty as to
the Supreme Court reaction, I believe
that tuition tax credits are firmly
within our present tradition of using the
federal tax system to encourage
socially useful private endeavors -
ranging from foundations and political
parties with tax relief. I see no dif-
ference between tuition credits for
elementary and secondary schools as
distinguished from college and univer-
sities. The tax code already is replete
with different forms of tax credits, such
as investment credits and pollution con-
trol credits.
As everyone knows, taxpayer sup-
port for public education is on the wane.
I am convinced that hard-pressed
families with children in school deserve
at least equal consideration when
Congress deals with our tax system, if
only because of the new support I
believe it would win among taxpayers
for our educational system as a whole.
Many communities face school closings
because of taxpayer resistance. As
things stand now, those who paynprivate
school tuition have very little incentive
to support public education. The tuition
credit, I believe, may strengthen their
support for public education. This
margin of support has now become
critical, and it could become the
deciding factor in the adequacy of
public school support.
America has made tremendous
educational strides with a dual system
- withboth public and private
education playing complementary,
constructive and indispensable roles.

'All we want to do is cut a teeny hole big enough to drive this truck through!
Credit idea unfair
THE TUITION tax credit is also very
By James Corman expensive. A $250 credit for college
students alone would cost nearly $2
WASHINGTON - I oppose tuition tax billion annually in lost federal revenues
credits not only because they could when fully effective.
sound the death knell for our American All of these arguments against tuition
system of free public education, and not tax credits are important, but most im-
merely because the tuition tax credit is portant of all is the overriding question
inequitable, inefficient, complex and of constitutionality, especially if the
probably unconstitutional. credit is granted for non-public elemen-
Tuition tax credits also are a form of tary and secondary schools. When
special interest legislation. They President John Kennedy presented a
violate the three basic principles of program calling for the most com-
sound tax policy on which the whole prehensive aid to education in the
solvency of our government rests - nation's history, he noted that no aid for
equity, simplicity and efficiency. parochial education was contemplated
LET'S TAKE equity first, the prin- "in accordance with the clear
ciple that in our progressive tax prohibition of the Constitution."
In an attempt to avert Constitutional
problems, authors of some of the
current tuition credit measures would
allow the credit for tuition paid to
F i t public schools as well as non-public.
THIS MIGHT pass the constitutional
test, but it could pose an even greater
danger. Public schools all over' the
country, beset by financial difficulties,
system, taxes should be based on the could begin to charge tuition, a scheme
ability to pay. Tuition tax credits are that would not only relieve their local
starkly regressive. They help the rich, treasuries, but would be absorbed in
while penalizing the middle classes and part by the federal government through
the poor for using public education, tax credits.
In essence, the tuition tax credit It is true that college costs have risen
would help only a special class of tax- dramatically over the past ten years.
payers - students and their parents. But there are more direct, fairer and
While soaring tuitions are a serious simpler ways of extending relief to
problem, the truth is that students and hard-pressed students and their
their parents already receive impor- families. The tuition tax credit is a
tant tax preferences that cost billions mistaken and perhaps dangerous idea
every year. that could erode this country's most
Certainly our tax laws should encour- cherished values.
age education. But if the goal of aid to
education is to encourage more young
people to go toecollege, then it is a James Corman, a U. S. Congress-
mistake to offer the most inducement to man from Southern California,
upper income students. They already wrote this for the Pacific News Ser-
can easily afford college, with or
vie.without a $250 tax credit.V15

taa. creu

and more effectively than most public
school systems.
Tax tuition credit proposals
realistically reflect this fact of life
about private education in America
today. Eighty per cent of the benefits of
the tuition tax credit will flow to
families with incomes below $22,000.
TUITION TAX credits will also help
the whole system of American
education at a time when the learning
crisis is evident almost everywhere.
Competition is a unique part of the
American system. The private school
system complies with almost all of the
standards and requirements of the
public system, while also providing
competition in educational quality and
a stimulus for educational efficiency. In

The tuition credit should be enacted to
continue the achievements of this
system. It has my support not merely
because financially-strapped families
deserve tax relief, and because private
education is unlikely to survive in the
long run without it, but also because a
tax credit for private education will
help America as a whole uphold
educational levels at a time when their
decline should be a cause of deep con-
cern to us all.
Charles Vanik, a U.S.
Congressman representing subur-
ban Cleveland, wrote this for the
Pacific News Service

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