JETCO now benefits three kindergartens, THA

This fall, the Jewish Education Tax Credit Organization (JETCO) added another kindergarten to the list of schools that receive scholarships from Tucson’s only Jewish private school tuition tax credit program. Temple Emanu-El’s Olga and Bob Strauss Center for Early Childhood Education and Kindergarten joins Congregation Anshei Israel’s Esther B. Feldman Kindergarten, the Tucson Jewish Community Center’s Kindergarten and Tucson Hebrew Academy as beneficiaries of JETCO, formerly known as Cheder.

In 2011, JETCO provided over $540, 000 in scholarships to 126 students at these four schools. These scholarships are based solely on financial need, which has significantly increased with the economic downturn. “Tucson is fortunate to have a variety of Jewish educational opportunities that attract and keep Jewish families active in the community,” says Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona President and CEO Stuart Mellan. “JETCO helps the doors stay open by keeping enrollment numbers up, without costing the donor a penny.”

JETCO is a private school tuition state tax credit organization. Anyone who owes Arizona state taxes can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on their Arizona State income tax returns for their contribution, up to the amount of their tax liability. The maximum contribution permitted for the private school tuition state tax credit is $1,000 for a couple filing jointly and $500 for an individual.

“Some people are concerned that giving to JETCO hurts our public schools by taking tax money away from education, but they are mistaken,” says Eric Rudner, a CPA with the accounting firm of Ludwig Klewer and Co., PLLC. “By enabling students to attend private school, the tax credit actually saves the state the cost of educating those students at a public school.”

Donors can also support local education through the public school state tax credit and can take advantage of the working poor state tax credit to help other Jewish organizations in Tucson. Jewish Family & Children’s Services and Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging are both recognized as beneficiaries. Couples filing jointly can receive up to $400 and individuals up to $200 for each of these state tax credits, in addition to JETCO. Contact your tax advisor for any income tax related questions. Contributions must be made by December 31, 2011.

For more information or to make a donation to the Jewish Education Tax Credit Organization, contact JETCO Coordinator Ori Parnaby at 647-8442 or visit jetco.org.

Nancy Ben-Asher Ozeri is a freelance writer and editor. She can be reached at nancy_ozeri@yahoo.com.