Silver Linings Have Clouds: The South Dakota Homeschool Rebate Gotcha

P&R notes, rightly, that the idea of getting a property tax rebate because one homeschools is problematic:

If we tie private/home education to the tax code, however, suddenly the government does control at least some of the money.  That gives them greater power and control over the education itself, which rather defeats the purpose of private/home schooling.

I am inclined toward allowing people to keep what is theirs. This would include allowing people who homeschool to keep the money which they give up in taxes to support public education. The problem is that the bill, as I understand it, would not do this. Rather, it would allow the individuals who homeschool to pay their property taxes like everyone else and then, after filing some paperwork, get money back from the government.

But, you say, “It’s still their money, right?” Well, no. Once it has been paid in taxes, the money is no longer the taxpayer’s. And, P&R is absolutely correct when he says that with government money comes government control. He who pays the band selects the playlist.

Would I appreciate not being penalized for homeschooling? Absolutely. I pay property taxes and I also pay a substantial amount every year for all of the books and other materials necessary to homeschool–not to mention my wife’s enormous contribution of time and energy as head teacher.

The truth is that we don’t homeschool because it is financially advantageous–nor will passing a bill to provide a tax rebate make a difference to us one way or the other. Nonetheless, I see the bill as unnecessary and likely to further complicate matters rather than improve them. The idea is noble but the execution fraught with difficulties.