September 2017 Church & State - September 2016

Ga. Supreme Court Upholds Private School Tax Credits

  AU admin

In a unanimous June decision, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that taxpayer money funding private school voucher programs like tuition tax credits (TTCs) does not violate the state’s constitution. 

In 2014, a group of Georgia taxpayers sued the Georgia Department of Revenue in Fulton County Superior Court and argued that the state’s tuition tax credit program, which costs $58 million a year, is unconstitutional because the program often uses public money to fund private religious schools. 

When a judge dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims, they appealed to the state’s higher court. Americans United is among the organizations that filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the taxpayers’ argument. 

TTCs are a type of voucher that gives people or businesses a tax credit if they contribute money to a “scholarship” organization, which then uses the money to pay for private school tuition. It’s still a voucher program because taxpayer money is being diverted from public schools and funneled into private schools. 

The state’s high court, however, rejected the case on grounds of “standing” – that is, the right to sue. Ruling in Gaddy v. Georgia Department of Revenue, the court stated that the plaintiffs’ “complaint fails to show that they, or any taxpayers for that matter, are harmed by this program.” 

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