Make Tax Reform Work For Kids
From Thursday’s op-ed in U.S. News & World Report
Trump should seize the opportunity of tax reform to increase support for public education – and make the system fairer.
When the Trump administration and congressional Republicans unveil a major tax reform package in the coming weeks, they’ll likely reveal a dirty little secret underlying federal education policy. Most think the federal role in financing education is small, targeted and progressive. In fact, it’s the opposite: The federal government subsidizes education and school finance inequity on a massive scale.
Folks tend to think about federal support for education in the form of Title I and IDEA special education grant programs, but they rarely consider much larger federal tax expenditures like the state and local property tax deduction that subsidize local school spending. Nor do they consider how regressive these expenditures are.
K-12-related education tax expenditures benefit homeowners who itemize, a disproportionately wealthy group. Because of the marginal rate structure, the state and local tax deduction benefits most those with the highest incomes in the highest spending school districts. It’s a disequalizing force.
The Republican leadership’s version of tax reform is expected to eliminate the state and local tax deduction to pay for lower corporate tax rates, but that will reduce support for public education. Instead, we should seize the opportunity of tax reform to increase support for public education and make the system fairer at the same time. The result would be good for Trump supporters in red states disadvantaged by the current system, parents who send their kids to public school and most importantly, the nation’s neediest children.
The federal government should do…