March 2017 Church & State - March 2016

Georgia High Court Reviews State’s School Choice Program

  AU admin

Georgia’s Supreme Court in January heard arguments in a case against the state’s tuition tax credits, a type of backdoor voucher program.

A group of Georgia taxpayers chal­lenged the 2008 law that allows individuals to donate money to student scholarship organizations (SSOs) and receive dollar-for-dollar income tax credits. Business donors receive credit for up to 75 percent of their tax liability, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The SSOs then send the money out to participating private schools.

The taxpayers in the suit argue the program violates the state’s constitution, because it diverts public funds to support private religious schools. Americans United is among the organizations that filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the taxpayers’ argument.

 The Daily Report in Atlanta wrote that Georgia’s assistant attorney general, who argued the case on behalf of the Department of Revenue, countered that the taxpayers had not been sufficiently harmed to have standing, or grounds, to sue. He and organizations supporting the tax credit program claim only private money is involved.

The state Supreme Court was hearing the case, Gaddy v. Georgia Department of Revenue, on appeal after a Fulton County court had previously dismissed the suit.

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