Bill would allow tax deduction for donating to failing student

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill being drafted for the upcoming legislative session would allow a private citizen or private organization to donate money to a failing student for a tax deduction.

Some say the proposal appears similar to a voucher bill that passed in 2007 then was repealed by voters. But the bill's sponsor, Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, says the new bill is nothing like the old one.

Under the bill currently being drafted, the failing student then could use the money to go to a private school. Wimmer says it's a scholarship of sorts.

He says the tax deduction would be similar to the deductions taken for charitable or religious contributions.

"The difference in 2007 is that the state was issuing the voucher. The state was taking money out of its coffers and sending that money to individual parents who would then take that money to a private school. That is not happening in this case," Wimmer explained.

Wimmer says the big difference is that the money would never be in the state's hands. It would go directly from a private citizen or organization to a struggling student for the purpose of increasing their chances of educational success.

Wimmer told KSL he worries this bill will be misinterpreted. He's ready for a debate and says he doesn't want this new idea to be tainted by that 2007 voucher bill.

In 2007 state lawmakers wanted to grant $500 to $3,000, depending on family income, for each child sent to private school. Unlike voucher programs in other states, even affluent families in well-performing districts would have qualified.


Story written with contributions from Courtney Orton and Logan Daniels.

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