Alabama private school tax credits

The Birmingham News file

The Alabama Supreme Court will hear arguments Dec. 3 on the state government's appeal of a judge's ruling striking down the Alabama Accountability Act.

The case is third on the court's docket for a hearing that starts at 9 a.m. in Montgomery.

The Accountability Act provides state tax credits for parents to move children from public schools rated as failing to private schools. It also provides tax credits for individuals and businesses that contribute to scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools rather than public schools.

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State tax officials say some parents wrongly claimed tax credits under the new Alabama Accountability Act and are being asked to return it.

State Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee and Deputy Commissioner Curtis Stewart say the department's review is ongoing and it's too early to say how many will be asked to return their refunds or pay additional taxes.

An Alabama judge will delay enforcing his decision outlawing tax credits for private school students in Alabama.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Gene Reese issued a hand-written order Monday agreeing to delay implementation of his ruling against the Republican-based Alabama Accountability Act.

The judge agreed with the state to block his order, meaning the tax credit program can go ahead while appeals courts consider the issue.

The law allows state tax credits for parents who move their children from failing public schools to private schools.

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A Montgomery judge has struck down Alabama's tax credits for parents who move their children from failing public schools to private schools.

Circuit Judge Gene Reese ruled Wednesday that the Alabama Accountability Act is unconstitutional. He said it violates the state Constitution's requirement for the Legislature to have only one subject in a bill.

The Legislature passed the law in 2013. It was challenged in court by members of the state teachers' organization, the Alabama Education Association.

It will be a few weeks before a judge decides a legal challenge to the new Alabama law providing tax credits for private education.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Gene Reese heard arguments Thursday on a lawsuit the Alabama Education Association filed over the Alabama Accountability Act.

The judge is giving attorneys two weeks to submit proposed orders and says he will rule afterward.

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A federal judge says he will rule quickly on whether to throw out a lawsuit challenging Alabama's new tax credits for families that move their children from failing public schools.

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins on Monday heard from attorneys for the Southern Poverty law Center, which has sued on behalf of eight children in poor, rural counties. He also heard from the attorney general's office, which wants the suit against the governor and other state officials dismissed.

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Former Gov. Bob Riley says he's serving as the unpaid chairman of a scholarship organization because he believes in a new Alabama law that provides scholarships to families that move their children from failing public schools.

Riley started the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund with Tampa businessman John Kirtley, who started a similar program in Florida.

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Nearly 600 Alabama businesses and individuals are getting state tax credits by contributing to private school scholarship programs.

The tax credits were included in the Alabama Accountability Act that the Legislature passed in February. State Revenue Department spokeswoman Carla Snellgrove says that 582 donors have given $19.5 million to organizations set up under the new law to provide scholarships to students who move from failing public schools to participating private schools.

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The Alabama Supreme Court has changed some of the wording its recent ruling tossing out a lawsuit against the Alabama Accountability Act, but it didn't change the result.

On Sept. 20, the state's highest court blocked a lawsuit that members of the Alabama Education Association filed against four legislators to challenge the new law. Even though the legislators won, they asked the court to reconsider part of the ruling that said the Accountability Act appropriated public funds.

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A Montgomery judge is letting three parents intervene in the Alabama Education Association's lawsuit challenging the state's new private school tax credits.

Judge Gene Reese ruled Monday that Tequila Rogers of Mobile and Danyal and Mark Jones of Montgomery can become parties. They support the credits because they chose to enroll their children in private schools rather than failing public schools. They are represented by the Institute for Justice, which has defended school choice laws in several states.

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The Alabama Supreme Court has blocked a lawsuit challenging a new law that provides tax credits for attending private schools.

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Alabama's public schools aren't seeing an exodus of students taking advantage of private school tax credits.

State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice told the state school board Thursday that preliminary survey data shows 51 students have used the new Alabama Accountability Act to transfer from a failing public school to a private school.

He told AL.com that not all school systems have responded to a department survey, but he doesn't expect the figure to increase much because the state's largest systems have responded.

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Gov. Robert Bentley says the Alabama Accountability Act is designed to help students in all public schools.

The governor spoke out Monday after the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal court suit seeking to block the law. The suit says some impoverished students can't access part of the law providing tax credits for families that move their children from failing public schools to private schools.

Bentley says another portion of the law gives those failing schools the flexibility to make changes and improve.

The only proposed rule for Alabama's new private school tax credits that's raising any concern is one saying the credits don't apply for children already in private school.

Alabama's Revenue Department planned a full day Thursday for a public hearing about its proposed rules for implementing the new Alabama Accountability Act. Few people showed up.

The new law provides state tax credits for parents who transfer their children from a failing public school to a private school.

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So far, 36 private schools have signed up to participate in Alabama's new private school tax credit program with less than two weeks to go before most schools start classes.

The state Revenue Department says the 36 schools range from Pope John Paul II Catholic High School in Huntsville to McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile.

Alabama's new Accountability Act provides state tax credits to parents who move their children from failing public schools to participating private schools.

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