Setting the bar, raising tax credit awareness

Victoria Bellomo-Rosacci, in center, with school officers. (submitted photo)

Victoria Bellomo-Rosacci, in center, with school volunteers. At right is her husband, Antonio. (submitted photo)

So I asked myself, what can I do as a parent to help at my daughters’ school? Both of our daughters attend Cherokee Elementary right here in the heart of Paradise Valley.

I am a 16 year practicing tax lawyer with an emphasis on resolving balances owed to the IRS. In my opinion, I know people, I know taxpayers and I know they do not like sending those tax due checks to the government.

It is a fact, we all have responsibilities and know that we must pay what we owe in our voluntary tax system, but what if we were able to choose where our tax monies went and what if that money went directly to programs for our children and we received a direct benefit.

Arizona has the answer.

Our tax credit law governed by A.R.S. § 43-1089.01  allows Arizona taxpayers to give to any public school the amount of $400 if married and $200 if single. Taxpayers may then offset these same dollar amounts against their Arizona State Income Taxes. Tax credits support extracurricular activities and character education.

In years past tax credit donations were due by Dec. 31, but this year and going forward, the legislature extended the deadline until April 15 for all public school tax credit donations.

This was my second year as the Tax Credit Chair for Cherokee. Tax credit funds are designated to specific categories or the general fund and the site council (made up of parents, teachers and our principal and staff) vote based on the guidelines.

Victoria Bellomo-Rosacci

Victoria Bellomo-Rosacci

There was only one problem with my task at hand, who wanted to talk about taxes and who really found this topic to be interesting?

I mean honestly, talking to people about owing the state income taxes when school starts in August — not very appealing. Then during the holidays, who wants to hear about taxes when holiday shopping. Try after the new year when people are starting their no spending resolutions.

It is a tough track to stay on for nine months, but we dedicated Cherokee parents are always up for the challenge.

I have to confess, I went a bit overboard with placing magnet signs on my car, printing a custom made Tax Credit T-shirt that I wore at many school events, yard signs, emails, flyers, social media posts, robo-calls, calls to friends, family, neighbors and accountants.

This year due in large part to the extended time for donating, my marketing efforts and social media outreach at Cherokee received a 33 percent increase in tax credit dollars donated, raising $66,486.

These funds will be used to support valuable before and after school programs, such as running club, typing club, video news, PANDA and Gifted student programs, fine arts, assemblies, field trips (including an educational trip to San Diego for fifth grade), online math/reading courses, noon aides and the list goes on.

Thank you Paradise Valley for supporting our school/our children.  To make a donation for the 2016-17 school year, visit  www.susd.org (click on tax credit) or mail a check payable to Cherokee Elementary 8801 N. 56th Street, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

Editor's Note: Ms. Bellomo-Rosacci is a Paradise Valley resident.

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