CFI Urges IRS to Stop the Tax Profiteering by Donors to Religious Schools


For Immediate Release: October 11, 2018
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

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Donors to private religious schools should not be profiting from their contributions at taxpayers’ expense, says the Center for Inquiry, urging the Internal Revenue Service to close a regulatory loophole that robs public schools of badly needed funds, subsidizes religious indoctrination, and awards private school donors a double-helping of tax credits that exceed their original donations.

The state and local tax credit (SALT) loophole lets private school donors in several states claim both federal and state tax credits for their contributions, allowing them to skim a profit off what is supposed to be a charitable donation. Those credits come from public coffers, which means taxpayers are footing the bill for religious indoctrination, as well as a payday for wealthy donors.

The Center for Inquiry, which promotes reason, science, and humanist values, has submitted official comments with the IRS, insisting the SALT loophole be closed.

“American taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize sectarian religious education at private schools to begin with. These schools are decidedly not providing a public service. They are permitted under law to discriminate against almost whomever they like in both admissions and employment,” said CFI Government Affairs Director Jason Lemieux. “But on top of subsidizing religion, the public is expected to pony up for tax credits that let private school donors take a profit while no such loophole exists for donations to public schools? This is an ethical line that should never have been crossed.”

“Just as voucher schemes rob public schools of the funds they need for the education of America’s children, the SALT loophole starves public education twice over by lining donors’ pockets with profitable tax credits,” said Lemieux. “It is so blatantly unethical that the only reasonable choice for the IRS is to scrap it.”

While the tax credits apply to donations to private schools generally, eight out of ten private school students attend explicitly religious schools.

“Religious schools are free to discriminate against almost any category of Americans they don’t like. We expect the IRS to do the right thing by our country’s students and taxpayers, and stop allowing donors to make a buck off of publicly-funded discrimination and indoctrination while undermining public education.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.