Urban legends about Arizona’s scholarship tax credit

Goldwater Institute (AZ), November 3, 2008

I’ve heard people say that Arizona’s scholarship tax credits “only help rich kids go to private schools.” This is a myth.

Based on the fact that three of the larger student tuition organizations (the Dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson and the Arizona School Choice Trust) means test their scholarships, we know a minimum of 41 percent of individual tax credit scholarships go to low-income students.

Other scholarship organizations also use means-testing, and low-income children also receive scholarships from organizations that do not means-test as a policy. The actual number of low-income children benefiting from the tax credits then is easily much higher than the known minimum of 41 percent.

Furthermore, public schools aren’t means tested, and I haven’t heard anyone criticizing that. Any progressives out there concerned about taxing poor people to send the children of millionaires to tony public schools?

Anyone? Anyone?


Senior Policy Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, Vicki Murray, recently completed a survey of scholarship tuition organizations who participate in the corporate scholarship tax credit program, which does have a means test. For the 2006-07 school year, the average corporate tax credit scholarship recipient family earned $28,458. During the 2007-08 school year, the average recipient family earned $35,533. Both averages are well below the statutory maximums and the federal free and reduced price lunch income limits for a family of four.

The time has come to stop hand wringing over urban legends and expand the ability of all parents to pick the best school for their child.

Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Goldwater Institute: Education Scholarships: Expanding Opportunities for Students, Saving Taxpayers Money

Goldwater Institute: The Arizona Scholarship Tax Credit: Providing Choice for Arizona Taxpayers and Students

Arizona School Tuition Organization Association: Tuition Tax-Credit Scholarship Recipient’s Family Income Survey

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

Scroll to Top