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Court asked to dismiss challenge to private school scholarship program

Tim Keller, Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter executive director (Photo by Bill Coates)

A libertarian public interest law firm filed has asked the Maricopa County Superior Court to dismiss a legal challenge against the state’s corporate tuition tax credit scholarship program filed last month.
“This frivolous lawsuit flies in the face of settled law embracing school choice and should be dismissed immediately,” said Tim Keller, executive director of the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter. “The legal antics of school choice opponents should not be allowed to thwart the promise of expanded educational opportunities for Arizona families.”
Mr. Keller says the Arizona Supreme Court has already approved tax credits given for donations that will be used for private school scholarships in a 1999 ruling in the Kotterman v. Killian case, which was a challenge to a tax credit program for individual taxpayers.
The Institute for Justice is joined in the defense of the corporate tax credit program by former Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court Thomas Zlaket, who wrote the court’s opinion in upholding the individual tax credits in the Kotternam case.
The suit, which was filed Sept. 18 by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Arizona School Boards Association, alleges the tax credit program violates several provisions in the state- and federal constitutions.
The program allows businesses to donate a portion of their income tax liability to school tuition organizations, or STOs, which then distribute the money to students in the form of scholarships to private schools. In order to qualify for a scholarship, a student’s family must earn less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
The corporate program caps the statewide amount of tax credits for such donations to $10 million, though there is no limit on how much an individual business can donate. The cap for aggregate tax credits will increase by 20 percent each fiscal year for the program’s five years.

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