Supreme Court Throws Out Challenge to Arizona Tuition Tax Credit Program

Lindsey Burke /

The Supreme Court has reversed the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, which sought to end the Arizona Tuition Tax Credit Program.

The program allows individuals to receive tax credits of up to $500 ($1,000 for married couples) for contributions made to scholarship-granting organizations, which in turn provide vouchers to children to attend private schools of their choice. During the 2008 fiscal year, more than $54 million in scholarships was awarded to children through the tax credit program.

The Institute for Justice writes:

Today’s landmark decision declared that the plaintiffs in the case lack standing to bring the challenge in the first instance because the program is funded by private contributions, not government funds.

The Arizona Tuition Tax Credit Program has successfully provided school choice options to low- and middle-income students who would otherwise be relegated to schools that do not meet their needs. Matthew Ladner recently wrote about a 2010 Harvard report, authored by Vicki Murray of the Pacific Research Institute, which found that the tax credit program significantly expanded educational opportunities for children in Arizona:

Those who oppose parental choice often claim the tuition tax credit only benefits children from wealthy families. However, the Harvard analysis finds the median family income for students with tax credit scholarships was almost $5,000 lower than the statewide median family income. The median income of families with tuition scholarships was also almost $5,000 lower than the median incomes of their home neighborhoods, as estimated using student addresses and zip codes. …

Some may complain that family income limits for the corporate tax credit is too high, but compared to what? Remember, there are no limits on family income to attend public schools. No one blinks at the notion of the state paying for a public education for the children of billionaires.

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court punctuates a week of school choice victories for families across the country. On Wednesday, the Indiana House of Representatives passed a bill to create what could become the country’s most aggressive voucher program. That same day in Washington, D.C., a bill introduced by House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program passed through the House.

School choice—whether tuition tax credit programs, vouchers, virtual school, homeschooling, or the many other options offered across the country—ensures that families have access to an education that best meets their children’s needs. Today’s ruling ensures that Arizona children will continue to have access to school choice options in the Grand Canyon State.