Tuition Credit Survives Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on April 4 tossed out a challenge to Arizona’s tuition tax credit program. That initiative in many cases directs scholarship money to private schools, including Catholic schools. The 5-to-4 ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, held that Arizona taxpayers lack jurisdiction for challenging the program. He argued that because the support is generated through tax credits for donations to scholarship organizations, no actual state spending is involved. In a strong dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said that because of the program the state lost an estimated $350 million in revenue. “The court’s arbitrary distinction threatens to eliminate all occasions for a taxpayer to contest the government’s monetary support of religion. Precisely because appropriations and tax breaks can achieve identical objectives,” wrote Kagan, “the government can easily substitute one for the other.”

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